Climate change will continue to shrink snowpack, resulting in shorter and less predictable whitewater seasons. Whitewater paddlers will migrate to ocean surf and rock gardens. According to Sean Morley of California Canoe & Kayak, it's already begun.
"The drought situation in California is depressing if you're a whitewater boater, so I've been encouraging folks to bring their kayaks and skills to the ocean where there is an endless supply of whitewater excitement," says Morley. "More and more, hardcore whitewater boaters are considering the ocean as an alternative to a dry creek bed. Ben Stookesberry paddled the Mendocino coast and was blown away by the beauty and potential for play on the coast."
Kayak designers are already responding. The Jackson Karma RG and P&H Hammer are at home on the river and in ocean rock gardens. River paddlers will hone new skills for the ocean environment. "The three dimensional and almost random nature of ocean rock gardens can be confusing to a river paddler who is used to a whitewater feature that behaves more consistently," Morley says. "The ocean should never be underestimated, and it takes time to be able to predict what is likely to happen."
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How Technology, demographics and shifting climate will change the way you paddle
Russell Henry's expedition around Vancouver Island was all about going fast, so I chose a boat that would help me achieve my goal.