Thursday, May 5, 2011

Whitewater weekend with Geneva Kayak Center

Alec leads the group onto Section 3 of the Wolf River.
We spent the past weekend at a staff retreat for Geneva Kayak instructors. We pitched our tents in a rustic site near Langlade, Wisconsin, and spent our days doing some swift water rescue training and some whitewater paddling on the beautiful Wolf River

Water levels were high, thanks to a combination of recent rain and snow melt. It was running at about 900 CFS, so many rocks lurked just beneath the surface. But at this level, it provided some nice waves, solid eddies and a lot of fun.

Aaron paddles through Gilmore's Mistake.
At this time of year, there's no question about dressing for the water temperature. It was essentially the same as the air temperature--about 40 degrees--and the wind made it feel cooler. But as long as we wore plenty of thermal layers and kept paddling, we stayed warm. 

Scott catches a wave.
The same could not be said of the campsite, where it was difficult to stake our tents in some places because the ground was frozen and strong winds threatened to blow them away. Still, we managed to enjoy a campfire most nights and mornings and practiced tying bowlines and setting up Z-drags. 

When it wasn't too windy, the campfire kept us warm. 
There's a huge value to staff retreats. In addition to the training, they provide opportunities to build camaraderie. 

Haris, Paul and Greg at the campsite.
Jeremy and Emily help prepare breakfast.
Ryan picks blueberries.
And for those of us who paddle sea kayaks more than whitewater boats, they provide an opportunity to have a steep learning curve once again. 

Sharon smiling--a look typical of all of us.