“Packrafts are reviving wilderness boat travel. They excel at low flows, which sadly are becoming more common, and pair well with other sports like skiing, biking, canyoneering and backpacking. And they’re much less intimating to beginners than hardshell kayaks or even canoes.” — Packraft evangelist Forrest McCarthy
The Age of (Re-)Discovery
Falling reservoirs in the American Southwest are slowly revealing long-dormant river stretches, including new rapids below the Colorado’s Grand Canyon.
The great rivers have been mapped and run, the remotest coastlines paddled long ago. Everything worth discovering has been explored, right? Wrong. Everyday paddlers—you and me—can now spy with impunity on potential new runs. We have more information than ever before, from Google Earth’s all-seeing (and free!) eye in the sky, to real-time gauge telemetry and camera-equipped drones to scout beyond the next horizon line. That’s not all. According to American Rivers, more than 600 dams have been removed from U.S. streams in the last decade alone, uncovering thousands of river miles not seen nor paddled for generations. As the dam-removal movement gains momentum, river-boaters won’t be the only ones with new waters to explore. The newly un-dammed Elwha River has already deposited millions of tons of sediment on the Washington coast, creating new wildlife habitat and an intriguing surf break for sea kayakers to explore. Though the fat lines on the map have long been filled in, the future will bring us many more thin threads to pull. There may even be a few big ones left on the table. Just ask Rocky Contos, a kayaker who discovered and ran the true source of the Amazon River—in 2012. — JM
If you can rent someone’s spare bedroom on AirBnB, why not kayaks and canoes?
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How Technology, demographics and shifting climate will change the way you paddle
Soon, someone is going to realize that the answer to feeling good is not keeping gluten out of your gut.