Field Tested: 4 Expedition-Worthy Crossover Kayaks
Words: Joe Jackson Photos: Aaron Schmidt The Wild and Scenic stretch of Oregon’s Lower Rogue could well be defined as a crossover river. Ambling miles of emerald Class II punctuated with whoop-worthy Class III (and the occasional Class IV drop) make it a perfect place for beginner whitewater boaters to cross into the intermediate range. This heavenly protected stretch made famous by the likes of author Zane Grey and Meryl Streep (a la The River Wild) also toes the line between rugged and luxurious. Deep in the canyon, outfitters such as Rogue Wilderness Adventures serve rib-eye steaks to clients reclining on inflatable couches. This dichotomous stretch of river was the perfect testing ground for a quiver of four crossover kayaks. Our group of C&K staffers and regular contributors spent three long summer days on the Rogue, evaluating how each of these boats would serve as a do (almost) everything river craft. Over these 34 low-stress miles we sprinted in flatwater, dropped the crossovers’ retractable skegs to drift, peeled in and out of every eddy, and left no riffle unsurfed. In the evenings, we compared notes over delicious local craft brew from Ninkasi. After we left the Wild and Scenic section, we
How to Read Water
By Colin Kemp Becoming a well-rounded paddler requires learning a mix of hard skills (such as bracing, throw rope practice, strokes) and soft skills (such as reading water). All too often, however, the soft skills get left behind in today’s world of instant gratification. The stability and maneuverability of modern boats may have helped kayakers build hard skills, but the evolution of gear does not let you cheat the progression of the soft skills, which take time and practice. Learning to read water is just like learning to speak a new language. Not only do you need to be able to say the words, but also you need to understand what the other person is saying to have a good conversation. If you make time to develop the three ‘Ps’ of reading water, you will continue to build your vocabulary and be a better boater for it. Practice! You will never learn to read water if you don’t stop, get out of your boat, and scout a rapid. Even if it is a rapid you’ve run dozens of times before but have never scouted, you may be amazed by what you find. Hone the soft skill of anticipating how various currents
All My Sons
Leather backpack straps tear into shoulders on a long carry; chewy, thick-sliced salami for lunch; jokes and banter echo over calm water; pine trees whisper in the breeze; the scrub of granite on bare feet; the tug of a hefty northern pike: These are the collective summertime memories of Gary Sundberg and his sons, Martin, Aaron and Craig. The timeless sensations of canoe-tripping may fade over time, but as the Sundbergs discovered last July, young families, high-paced jobs and thousands of miles of separation cannot displace deep-set traditions rooted in Minnesota’s North Woods.
Canada’s South Nahanni River is to canoeists what the Colorado River’s Grand Canyon is to whitewater boaters: the ultimate bucket-list experience.
Video: How to Perfect Your Greenland Roll
So, you think you’re pretty good at rolling? Try swapping your paddle for a brick. In this video by filmmaker Andrew Elizaga, internationally renowned paddling instructor James Manke shares some tips for mastering the most difficult traditional Greenlandic kayak rolls. Among the hardest is a roll called the Ujaqqamik tigumisserlunii, or “holding a stone in one’s hand” roll, that involves using a 17-pound brick instead of a paddle. Manke won the 2014 National Greenland Kayaking Championship, in which there are 35 types of competitive rolls. Greenlandic Inuit peoples depended on the kayak (spelled ‘qajaq’) for hunting seals and fish. Rolling was a crucial self rescue skill when hunting in rough sea conditions, and the Inuit developed a vast number of complex and challenging methods of rolling. Related Greenland Bound: Canadian duo hones skin-on-frame ‘Qajaq’ skills for Greenland Kayaking Championships A Paddler’s Pilgrimage: Behind the scenes of a new documentary celebrating sea kayaking’s Greenland roots
Seattle to San Diego by sea kayak
How do you follow up 2,400 miles of “pure adventure” paddling the length of the Mississippi River? If you’re Denver-based adventurer Rich Brand, you move on to saltwater, and set out to sea kayak the entire west coast of the United States. Brand is the man behind Captured Heartbeats, movement that seeks to “inspire others to adventure while photographing the people, culture and environment.” After traveling and photographing much of North America by Jeep and motorcycle, he made his first kayak journey in 2014—a Mississippi source to sea. With the Ol’ Muddy behind him, Brand launched his sea kayak in Seattle in early May. We caught up with Brand on the Oregon coast, midway through his 1,000-mile journey to San Diego. CanoeKayak.com: What was the impetus for Captured Heartbeats? Rich Brand: It’s more than just traveling. It’s the ability to meet and be part of people’s lives. I have been welcomed by so many different lives and lifestyles. I interpret this as being able to see and experience the heartbeats of their lives. When the opportunity allows, I like to capture those through imagery. When did you get into paddling? I see up until the Mississippi, most of your travels were motorized.
On Sale Now: June 2015
Cliff Jacobson Unfiltered
An interview with canoeing author and north country legend Cliff Jacobson