The nuances of paddling ww.

Adrenaline removed: The nuances of paddling white water.

On a recent paddling trip to the South Eastern U.S.  I went on a mission to capture the nuances of ww paddling with the hopes of demonstrating in a somewhat "non-adrenaline" charged approach, why it is that I drive ridiculous hours to Rivers and Creeks in far off places on a semi-regular basis to chase my passion.

The attached video is what I came up with.  I'll let the video do the talking.  Enjoy. :D

Katie Quinn  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rPeLljFxW0


Deepest Gratitude to WRSI and the Trident.


I've been paddling whitewater for 15 years. I am passionate about Rivers and paddling.  I never take for granted the power of nature. Each time I leave a River safely, I am grateful for the river itself, for how it was created and for having spent the day safely on the river. I feel this way regardless if it's a class 2 section or one strewn with class 4/5 rapids. 

While it's easy to become complacent on a section of river that you have run at least 100 times over, there are some rapids that one ought not take lightly, the Norman's Rapid on the Ottawa River is one such rapid. I NEVER take the Norman's lightly (despite the fact that I generally waltz down it completely unscathed). I recently had an excellent reminder of why I feel this way.

The Norman's Rapid is created by a drop in elevation combined with an abrupt bottleneck in the flow of the river, funneling the entire flow of the river into a canyon a quarter the width of the river. The result is a surprisingly stable and "mostly" predictable rapid that changes minimally at just about every water level.  The Norman's starts off with a few cross cut waves at the top that lead into a set of offset waves that generally corkscrew boats and rafts through the heart of the rapid. Lingering just below the corkscrew section however are a series of very powerful and unpredictable boils and seams that commonly shift a 20 ft raft 10 feet left or right into the canyon walls at the eruption of a boil, worse still is the sensation of a seam opening and pulling you and your kayak down several feet and sometimes below the surface into a twisting whirlpool. Swimmers of this rapid often experience a trip to the "green room".  This is when the boils take the swimmer down deep into the rapid where all is still, green and quiet and the buoyancy of your lifejacket and efforts to swim are nullified by the power and momentum of the boils.

On the day when I site the Deep gratitude for my WRSI Trident, I was running the Norman's with the intent to eddy out just past the corkscrew part of the rapid in order to run safety for a friend was scouting my line as he was about to run the rapid in a tandem open canoe.

My line started in the middle of the rapid....where it generally always does. While it was my intent to skip over the first 2 waves with the hopes of getting some great air when boofing off the top of the waves, my kayak instead was surfed on top of a large surging wave that continued to surge directly into the left wall of the canyon slinging me literally head first onto and into the canyon wall and the rocks piled at edge of the wall. I made first contact with the rocky wall at the back of my head and at the right  side of my head. My kayak flipped and and the surging waters in the rapid continued to bob and grind my boat half in the water and half on the rocky sides of the shoreline.

It took a while for me to roll as setting up for the roll in the surging and boiling waters and the front of my bow bouncing off rocks made it difficult. When I surfaced, all of those around me were shocked that I was conscious and able to roll up.

The best example of how the impact felt would be to imagine a 250 lb home-run hitter making contact with the back of your head with a bat with the strongest wind up they could muster.

The Norman's Rapid, Ottawa River

As I mentioned before, I never take the Norman's lightly (mostly because of the boils and seams), but never would I have imagined that anyone could crank their head that hard, especially on a river as deep as the Ottawa.

I extend my deepest gratitude to WRSI's Trident as I feel strongly that the situation could have easily been much, much worse had I been wearing an inferior helmet.  The image below shows my Trident which was in pristine condition before this incident. Every scratch and mark shown is a result of the situation that I described above.

While I am sad that I fractured my Trident, I shudder to think of what the alternative(s) could have been.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU (with deep gratitude) WRSI.


Four months, four countries, four different jobs, three surfboards, one creek boat and a whole lot a love!


It happens every so often in life when the forces that be, in this case the river gods, give you a helping hand. I'm 29 years old, a recent home owner, and for the last two years have been working 11 out of 12 months. Before that I was Working 200 days and kayak traveling for a 150 days. It's been over three years since I was in Chile and wasn't sure when I'd be back. However, this last summer someone invited me back to Chile and I was motivated to look for a ticket making a deal with my self that I wouldn't pay over a grand for one. The river gods provided and I found a super cheap flight out of La.
 I was only going for a month to say hi to friends and paddle in Pucon, then get back before I lost my job. Ha!, a month later I had realized that this third time back in Chile I was fostering old friendships and wedging my self into three different communities, Pucon, Futaleufu, and Lago Bertrand, (one of the main sources of the RIo Baker). I wasn't ready to go back. It was too good in these communities with these people who loved and respected there rivers and land. 
 I skipped my flight home and the river gods rewarded me for my faith by providing me work in Futa as a safety cata rafter, safety kayaker, and video kayaker (super g$$d job). While in Pucon, I paddled with my buddy LJ Groth, and his company Escape. It was super fun  and also provided me exposure to the indigenous people of Curarrehue out side of Pucon and other paddlers.. It was a welcome relief  to the craziness of Pucon and home of the Rio Puesco, one of the top three rivers in the area.

And so I'll start from the beginning. 

The spring creeks of Montana Idaho where done by the end of the summer and I needed training.

Bear cr. Mt
 White sands cr. Id 

 I found the answer with my roommate by going on a four week road trip of surf training in Baja. Sure your not in 

a kayak, but surfing is great training. It started with a road trip from Montana to Baja in my 1992 chevy  work/ surf van, "Lloy".

Of the cost of Baja on the Island Natividad 

Another Mexican sunset.

I stepped on this guy. Luckly his tail was stuck and couldn't sting me. When I lifted my bare foot he had this venom just dripping out of his stinger.

OK, four weeks later and I'm all trained up, on to Pucon Chile.

Kayaker    Ian Garcia,

Rio Claro, The "Cericole" drop.
180 degree 30 ft slide to 30 ft drop

Photo Lj Groth

photo, Dan Thurber

Photo Dan Thurber

Photo LJ Groth

the exit falls on the rio Claro

Lj Groth, stomping the first drop on the vente dos saltos of the Rio Claro

waiting at the portage on the Rio Palguin. Huck it or  jump it. Both are exciting. 
volcan la'nin outside of Curarrhue
              Todd Richey lining up on the  slide on Nevados cr. 
Photo, Elena Louder

Dan Thuber dropping in on the classic Nevados slide. Welcome to one of the top creeks in Pucon.

Dan Urriza catching a little more air then expected. 

photo Dan Thurber
Catching some air my self!

Dan dropping in on the hard left waterfall on the Lower Nevedos

Loveing it, Boofing it!

 Aniol Serasolses boofing the Wall drop on Nevados
Lj Goth firing off the Demshitz drop
Dan and myself mid way through the waterfall section of the Upper Fuy

My WRSI throw bag crushing it as usual 

Dan Urizza leaving the Nevados slide 

Thats always a good sign 

May I introduce to you the "Pumita", my 1997 Toyota Hilux. Its bad ass and waiting for me when I return next year to chile. It originally belonged to Robby Dasten, who with Kurt Casey, Brennen Guth, and others first decented manny of the runs we now take for granted in Chile. This truck carried legends. Thanks Robby, Im Honored you sold it to me. 

on top of Valcan Viallarica in Pucon

Mt. Frey, one of the many sources to the Rio Monso  outside of Baraloche Argentina
Lago Monso at night

Myself, getting fired up for salto de Alerces on the Rio Monso

Firing it Up! 

After two months in Pucon it was time to go to the big and beautiful water of the Rio Futaleufu. While here most of my time is spent working so not to many shots. But, the Futa is one of the best rivers I've ever been on. With about 40 kilometers of class 4 and 5 white water, easy access, and cleanliness it is a super special river. Don't be fooled either. IT IS STILL IN THREAT TO BE DAMED. Its happening subtlety, but construction of info structure has been going on slowly in the valley. Be aware and be educated.

Rio Futaleufu

In my last days in Chile I had the great luck of going back to the Rio Baker for a third time. This is truly a gem in the country and I encourage all, kayaker and non kayaker to come and experience the power and beauty of this land.

On this trip back, I was hired as a driver and a guide for Creature Craft and there first descent of the baker in inflatables.  I know how kayakers feel about them, but keep in mind they ran all three canyons with out issue. On one lap the took two passengers. This opens up more possibilities for exposure to rivers to more people creating yet more awareness for rivers, thus growing our river community.

Needless to say, running in front of the creature crafts, as point man/ safety kayaker was crazy. Pretty much out there alone, watching waiting in the eddy below. Humbling to say the least.

* all photos in this section are from Tanya. Thank you!

fist drop, Salto Neff, at the confluence 

Fico Galisse in the first rappid. many kayakers Know Fico because he is one of few guides for the area. After eight trips here to the Baker, this was his fist time inside the canyon. 
myself exiting rappid # 1

Dropping in to rappid #3

Creature crafts do flip some times. This is in rappid #3

Me safety kayaking the baker, ha!

finding a line between the chaos in the fourth rapped. 

The whole team, Creature Crafters, Video, and me the only kayaker. 

And so I had 10 days to make it from the take out of the Rio Bake to Lima Peru.
When I skipped my flight home I looked for cheep one way flights.
Turns out lima is cheep. Lima to LA California was 345$ Winning!
BUT, it was 90 hours of travel, not fun. 

Its, now my last night in Liima. I just need to fly back to California and drive 24 hr, back to Montana, and I'm home again. Thanks river gods for helping me in my way through the river of life. With out them and all of the friends and sponsors, WRSI, it would be impossible. What an incredible journey!