Opening Day on the South Fork of The American.

5 years ago, I got to be part of a group of folks looking to create a new WW event on the West coast. With the folks at CCK we came up with a great event that incorporated kayak instruction, super sweet prizes at a raffle, a party with tasty Ninkasi beer, and it all raised funds for AW and their river conservation work. For our first three years, we had perfect weather and river flows to teach an assortment of clinic types. Then the winter of 2017 came around and while it was spectacular at helping us dig out of our drought it was really rough on our growing event. Half of our team JK instructors we stuck on one side of the Sierra with no way to cross due to road closures due to the massive quantities of snow, and we had projections for flooding that would prevent us from even thinking of getting on the river with students. We did the raffle online and still managed to raise some funds for AW but we all wanted to get on the water and have a party. Things were looking good this year and then our winter turned on late and warm. For those of you not accustom to snow melt rivers this made our chances of being able to get on the water fairly low. The projected flow was supposed to be around 27,000 CFS, which would have prevented us from having clinics. Luckily we were warm so we could get over the pass to join up with the rest of team JK and most of the precip went to our North. As a result, we got out on the river with some healthy flows. We had to do a bit of adjusting to accommodate the different river conditions and the groups skill levels. For the students that showed up the got a great student to instructor ratio regardless of what group you were in. Hilde and Yurt had the hardest jobs of the day. They were working with beginners and a flooded river, but they were super creative and did outfitting work, gear review, a scouting mission of some high-water rapids, and then a strokes and concepts clinic in some moving flatwater. The three other groups combined and we did a big variety of strokes, scouting, and boating. It is not every day that you can take a clinic with world champions, swift water rescue masters, guys pushing the limits of creek boating, former US team members, and the token old guy (me). Lots of our students stepped outside their comfort level and learned a bunch and had a blast doing it. I know that all the instructors had a great time sharing their knowledge as well. Eventually the sky cleared up and we had some sun to help kick off our party! Tammi from CCK made some great chicken tacos that we washed down with plenty of Ninkasi. Evan, Johnny, and Carson entertained us with movies of last year’s high water in Cali that keep our event off the water. It was sweet to see some of the ridiculous water that the next generation is finding a way to run safely. I look forward to helping coordinate the opening day again next year! Have a great summer of boating.

Later; Colin
Team JK

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