courtesy Horizon Aerial Media.

Tony Gianfagna running the falls (and pictured below) with the author at the lip.
Footage courtesy Horizon Aerial Media.

I'm wondering if this is a good idea. The Watertown cops have already been called, there's less than a hundred yards ahead of me until the edge of the world, and I just watched my friend Tony Gianfagna drop over it. Bovine Falls is more like a cliff with water pouring over it than most waterfalls, with a tiny drainage, and mixed opinions among law enforcement regarding the legality of kayakers paddling over it. Regardless, I find myself running through the pre-flight checklist in an eddy, practicing my tuck and imagining myself plugging deep into the boils below.

I peel out, paddling slowly but deliberately toward the lip. It seems to take twice as long to travel the last 10 feet to the lip, but I still struggle to fit all the adjustments I think I need into the space. The rooster tail at the lip kicks my bow up and I roll forward, pushing my feet down, staring 40 feet down as I plummet. I tuck forward and close my eyes, waiting for impact. Not quite enough. My head smacks against the cockpit rim as my bow deflects on the surface and I shoot out into the pool. I run a mental check and find no real injury before joining Tony in a shout of celebration.

The sun is setting, and the steep bank leading out of the canyon is covered with snow. There's just enough time for another run. Better get moving …

photo by Eric Adsit

Photo by Eric Adsit

— Check out more of Gianfagna’s paddling adventures exploring Siberia.

— Read about the Black River’s main paddling festival.

— See more paddlers tackling flat-to-vertical falls.

Check out more swollen, guitar-shredding footage from a Bovine Falls decent last year.