Whitewater River Running???

Excuse my whitewater ignorance here……My question….what exactly is river running when done as a group??? Going straight down the river with few stops, eddying out only when necessary from time to time to get the group together/survey a rapid? Or is it bouncing down the river hitting virtually every eddy as a group spending most of the time in the eddies rather than paddling straight down the river? What is the standard?

I am mostly a sea kayaker, but have done a little bit of whitewater paddling. My first whitewater experiences were river running solo……I know, not a good idea……I just went bombing down the river stopping at slow sections, and stopping at the tops of rapids to make an assessment. Mostly I just paddled straight down the river.

When I lived in CA I did several trips with a local club. This was my first and only experience paddling as part of a group on whitewater doing CL II and some III.

The group went down the river VERY slowly….stopping at virtually every eddy, playing at spots on the way down. Would take all day to cover a short section of river—6 or 8 miles. Is this kind of the standard when river running as a group? I was not particularly thrilled with this type of paddling as I spent more time in an eddy than on the river. Also found it a pain trying to crown 9 or 10 people into a tiny eddy on the river.

What is common for river running groups and clubs?

I now live on the east coast and am considering just how much I want to find a club around here to paddle with or whether I just want to stick primarily with coastal paddling.



Generalizing with bad spelling
included, i would say that clubs tend to err on the side of caution and that safety is paramount. Included is often a high degree of instruction, relaxation and a good time. So yea, your experience with club white water trips are much the same as mine.

I tend to paddle more with a group of like minded individuals/friends than clubs so while eddy hopping and playing certain exits, it tends to lead to quicker and harder trips than a club trip. We honor are selves more as comrades rather that fellow club members. We don’t have any club responsibilithy hanging over us. Still we follow paddle etiquette and safety issues.

One thing i like about email technology as a club really isn’t necessary to organzie a paddle as it can be done almost effortlessly over elines. See you downstream.

depends on the group and the skills…

– Last Updated: Mar-23-07 3:26 PM EST –

If it's a group of people who are not intimately comfortable with a particular stretch or specifically working on skills, the trip leader or the more experienced paddlers may choose to eddy hop down the river. On the other hand, if it's just a standard river run among confident friends, you won't sprint down the river necessarily, but in general it will be a quicker trip since you will probably catch fewer eddies and scout fewer drops and rapids.

Generally, the pace is determined based on how much river you want to cover in a certain amount of time. Normally when river running, we plan on running a particular section of river (anywhere from 6-10 miles) and we spend maybe 4 hours on the river including a quick bite to eat. (That same stretch is run in a third of the time if it's in flood stage and we're bombing down the run.) Mostly we are enjoying the river, the company, and the wildlife. When I'm with my playboating buddies, I can spend 4 hours on one quarter mile stretch so it really varies.

The key is to find people who have similar paddling goals/mentalities as you do or perhaps learn to enjoy the challenges of catching hard eddies or surfing if the group is moving too slow.

Similar to scizo

– Last Updated: Mar-23-07 4:57 PM EST –

We generally run on weekends 8 mile trips, 2 different local rivers, around 4 hours or so. Both rivers have a few good playspots so that's a must for everyone, and a gathering point for the continuous players like Mintjulep.We kind of set a time standard; 3-5 hours of paddling seems to be the right length of time, and a lunch break which makes for another gathering point. Our after work paddle is 6 miles, has 2 rapids. One is playable but we limit this to a couple minutes, the other is not playable, although some try, hence the name "boateater rapids." We try to get this done in less than 2 hours, because then we have shuttles etc., and I get up at 3:30 a.m.. Dinner at 9 p.m. then a shower makes for a real long day.
The first time I paddled with "players" I wondered what the heck they were doing, now I love surfing my canoe everwhere I can. Park and play is a great activity if you want to control the time spent paddling. Find the base of a decent rapid with an eddy and have fun ferrying and surfing, then you're done, no shuttle, no nuttin'.

Eddies are good things.
Bombing down a river does not allow you to enjoy it or the scenery. Moreover, it is not as safe as catching eddies. Eddies allow you to slow down and properly boat scout. You never know whether there is wood stuck in the river that wasn’t there the last time. And rivers change. That doesn’t mean you have to sit in an eddy for hours. But at least spot the next eddy and the one after that if you make a mistake. Give yourself some time to make good decisions rather than hurried ones necessitated by going too fast. Of course, showing someone down the river is different, as is having responsibility for beginners. If you or others want to play on the way down, talk about it and come to an agreement about how you will do it. Bottom line: there is no general norm except do what is safe.

Eddies Rock
I would rather Eddy Hop down a rapid than any other aspect of whitewater. The only thing better than hitting an eddy on edge is peeling out with your elbow dragging the water while looking down stream at the next available eddy.

As mentioned above, I think the length of the run and the company you keep is the key. If you like to hop and surf, then find like minded partners.

It has been over a month since my last whitewater. This river runnin talk has me fired up. I’m thinkin “Mill Stream Gardens” on the Saint, mid next week :slight_smile:

Whatever you choose, have fun.


ww kayakers are prone to play
If you hang out with ww kayakers, you will most likely be hanging with ww players vs. river runners. Many spots kayakers like, they don’t even run the river. They just like to go out to a few features, spend hours playing the features, and return to the put-in.

Canoeists are less prone to this, partially because it is more difficult to attain. The group I paddle with, they tend to run straight down the rivers. Sometimes I wish they’d slow up because I do like to practice catching eddies and have been known to linger on an easy wave.

So, it’s all in the desires/habit of the group you go out with. Join the local clubs and start going on the trips. Eventually, you should start running into people with similar tastes in river running. If that doesn’t work, find yourself a nice group of canoeists.

Have you found the GBCC site yet? They have forums, and one if for pick-up trips. You could post there with what you are looking for and see if you get any responses.

People often post on pick-up trips when the lower Gunpowder is running, which is right down the street from you. That’s a short run. People will tend to spend more time playing there. Otherwise, the run is over.

See if you can make some of the Leheigh releases, too. There are two stretches. One is ten and the other 12 miles. The distance, as previous posters have pointed out, means the paddlers need to make some downriver progress, which will restrict the amount of play.

Hope that helps.

Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

Bombing, Running, Playing…

– Last Updated: Mar-24-07 5:50 AM EST –

you can literally just "bomb" down a class II-III with some decent bracing and forward stroke skills... (short of running into an unseen sweeper/strainer around and sharp bend.)

Running -- doesn't mean bombing. Means you paddle down, catch the eddies, maybe surf a wave here and there.

Playing -- explore every feature and milk it for its play potential. K1 and C1 have the advantage here in being able to do silly kayak/CI tricks while the open boaters are pretty much front, side or backsurfing.

Running and playing can be as challenging and as difficult as you want to make these. Even if you don't "play" per se (as in silly kayak tricks), you can learn a lot by practing your eddy peel ins/outs with increasingly smaller eddies, midstream boulders, or micro eddies right next to a fast current. You can practice ferrying precisely across a fast current to a micro eddy; and when that's gets too easy, how about backferrying across. Front surfing too easy, well pick a midstream wave in fast current, where you have to catch some small eddy, then attain (go upstream - talk about cardio) a bit and then ferry onto the wave. When this gets boring, how about sidesurfing at a slightly retentive hole to practice your bracing and, yes, your combat rolling (WATCH YOUR SHOULDERS).

Bottom line -- you can milk out a bunch of challenging practice situations in a class II-III run to work and develop various skills that some sea kayakers will never see or deal with in a year or more of paddling.


Some Canoester’s like to play a bit too
It really depends on the individuals.

I’ve never met two people who run a river the same.

You will find everything from wildwater racing, where the intent is to get down the river as quickly as posible, to park and play, where folks work one or more features and take out where they put in.

If you have a preference it’s best to make it known beforehand and be flexible when you go with a new group.



no standard…
As others have already said, there’s no standard and it just depends on the specific group. When I first started paddling whitewater with a group I didn’t like the “slow” pace because I was too much of a chicken to do anything other than blast down a rapid (catch eddies? why - those things might flip me!). So while everyone else took multiple turns surfing on the waves, I was a total “eddy flower,” just sitting in the eddy watching everyone else. But slowly as my confidence grew, I would get up the nerve to try to surf on one or two of the smaller waves. I also got up the nerve to hit the eddies in the middle of the rapids, not just the easy ones at the bottom. Now, I’m usually the very last person on the wave as the group finally decides to head downstream! (I’m famous for saying “just one more time” about 10 times before I finally quit a wave).

I definitely love “working” the river for all it’s worth - finding every possible eddy, doing backferries and doing c turns and s turns backwards and of course the best thrill: surfing! Harder rivers aren’t always running here, but by really working a river you can practice class III moves on class II water to really hone your skills. That way when you are on class III/IV water and you “have” to catch that micro eddy, you’ve already done so dozens of times on your playful class II “home” river.

Anyway, even among the circles I paddle with, our speed varies depending on how many people in the group are really into surfing/playing or not, or how many miles we have to cover and how much daylight we have. Some in my circle are known to set a quicker pace, some a slower pace. I prefer a “slower” pace which actually gives me more of a workout but it’s all good.

For us, our trips with a lot of newbies actually tend to be faster because just like I was in the beginning, many newbies are still just running straight through the rapids and then will just watch from the eddy. That also changes as our weather is starting to warm up: it’s hard to be “brave” and try to hop on a wave when it’s only 40 degrees out, but it gets a lot easier to try some new moves once it’s in the 70’s and 80’s! A possible swim for those without combat rolls isn’t quite so intimidating, and can start to actually be a welcome way to cool off!

Bottom line: any time running a river, no matter how fast or slow, is awesome! Good luck finding a good group of paddling buds who will be in synch with you.


To me it means…
…not a whole lot of stopping to play in the holes and waves.

So it’s quite subjective, since what is a “…lot of stopping to play…”?

I consider myself to be a river runner: the nose of my kayak points downstream and I stop only when I have to for rest or food. More than

about 10 minutes in anyone place, and I want to

reach for a book.

In reality it turns into a compromise of how much

my companions want to play.

this about
sums it up for me


Riverstryder poling, Eckleson,Willard Aaron and me canoeing, Gabe in his C-1, Andy kayaking