(I posted a similar trip early in the season, but unfortunately it sold out before anyone here could register - so hurry this time!)
This introduction to whitewater kayaking weekend (no experience necessary) is cross posted here at Beyond Adventure but is run by my AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) whitewater paddling club by our volunteer members.
RSVPing this event does NOT reserve you a place - you need to register for the course by contacting the trip leader Carin: [masked]
What's included for $150?
Most meals and camping are provided as well as all technical equipment. The course starts and ends at our 'Barn' in Pomona, where we will provide an overview of the equipment needed, get you into a boat and gear, and teach you how to 'car top' your kayak. From there we will drive to the Lehigh River and camp. Saturday is skills practice in a calm section of the river; Sunday is river day where we will paddle a section of the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania. We provide Saturday and Sunday Breakfast, Saturday Dinner and Happy Hour Snacks. You bring: Friday dinner, river snacks, Saturday and Sunday lunch, beverages; camping gear (including bowls, plate, utensils, mug); and a sense of adventure.Completion of this course (or similar commercial courses), will enable you to join the AMC whitewater kayak club on future trips throughout the summer / fall.
Do I have to be a member of AMC?
No, the intro course is open to anyone, although there is a $25 discount for members. You're welcome to paddle a few trips with us to see how you like the sport before joining. Membership is $50/year, $25 for under 30s or over 70s.
Do I have to paddle with a club, can't I just go down the river with a friend?
Nobody will stop you, but I advise against it. On every trip we run, there will be experienced paddlers who know every rapid on the river and will be looking out for you. We also provide low cost gear rental for those on our trips, and organize logistics of insurance, camping and shuttling back to the parked cars.
I've done some rafting on the Lehigh / Hudson / Gauley will we be on those rivers?
Yes, but not yet. In skiing terms the above rivers are blue /black / double black. You'll be starting on the greens, but you could be running the Upper Lehigh by the end of the season.
Will I learn that 'eskimo roll' thing - that looks cool!
Yes, but not on this intro course. We normally teach rolling in a warm swimming pool over the winter - it's a tricky thing to learn, usually taking several hours of 1-1 tuition. We will however teach you other far easier skills necessary to recover from a capsize.
Although $150 seems very reasonable for a catered weekend course, is this sport expensive?
Given that there are no lift tickets nor hotel bills (we generally camp), and costs for future weekend trips is just $30 rental and $3 club fees (rental + club fee is already included for this intro course), you'll find whitewater kayaking a relatively low cost sport. The main expense is travelling to and from the rivers - just like skiing, the good rivers are 1.5 - 6 hours drive from NYC.
So do I need a car for this sport?
Although things are easier with your own car, I and many other city residents get by without one. A standard car can carry 2 kayaks on the roof, 4 with a regular roof-rack - we provide straps and padding. We encourage ride sharing, but do not organize it beyond providing a list of all participants - it's up to you to contact one another to arrange transport. Thus, you need to be prepared to rent a car should there not be sufficient shared transport - cheap rental cars are available at Spring Valley train station.
Is whitewater kayaking dangerous?
The club is very safety aware - you'll be wearing the provided PFD and helmet at all times on the river. On this course, and any future trips you take with us, there will always be experienced paddlers there to show you the safe passage through the rapids and ensure that you don't embark on rivers that are above your experience grade.
It's a bit rough and tumble, so expect the odd black'n'blue or scraped knuckle, but really no more dangerous than skiing/snowboarding. Sure, you'll see extreme videos of daredevil feats down immense waterfalls, but, just like those extreme skiing videos, nobody actually does that stuff at the club level.
Is this a ripped macho guy kind of sport?
Not at all - you can't fight the river no matter how ripped you are. It's all about using correct technique to harness the power of the river to guide the boat to go where you want it. Many of the club's best paddlers, as well as recent club presidents, are women. If you're the type who doesn't take well to being given instruction by women who are volunteering to share their time and skills with you, then I suggest this club / sport / century are not for you.
I've already done some rafting / sea kayaking / SUP etc, can I join the course on Saturday please?
I'm afraid not, everyone needs to start on Friday evening at our Barn in Pomona to be fitted for a kayak, helmet, paddle, spray skirt and PFD. Your previous skills will serve you well, but learning to paddle in swiftwater requires a new skillset.
Do I need a wetsuit?
If you have one bring it, although they do tend to chafe under the arms. If you don't have a wetsuit, don't buy one (although if you must, get a farmer john/jane style), just bring technical outdoor/gym wear (ie NOT cotton) including a rainjacket and fleece. Bring a swimsuit and a towel.
Can I learn to whitewater canoe rather than kayak?
Not on this course, although we do offer a separate canoe training course, and on club trips there is generally a mix of canoes and kayaks. Be warned though it's a lot slower learning in a canoe - most of our canoe enthusiasts either got into the sport prior to kayaks being a feasible option, or are experienced kayakers looking to learn new skills.
Thanks for reading this right to the bottom - that alone suggests that you'll get a lot out of this course. To register, or ask further questions, please email Carin: [masked]