CCC Intermediate White Water Course 05
Mike Betts June 11, 12 \ 05

 

I must start by saying how immensely I enjoy seeing "practiced" novice paddlers make the transition from moving water to the thrills of white water. This course is designed not only to introduce, but also raise the bar for a student to experience and see where kayaking begins to take on it's "serious" side. Class II and III white water is where most of a paddlers skills will be refined and honed, and although ALL moving water is to be taken seriously, II-III is where consequences for a paddler's confidence, decision making, and skill do become a "serious" matter. And hopefully that is the last time I will use the word "serious" in any of its forms! Where did I put my thesaurus? This course also is aimed at addressing the safety issues that MUST be ingrained into those who pursue this sport. The CCC is and has always been a stellar example of practicing water safety on both sides of our club, white water AND flat water. My fellow head instructor Dave Gibson and myself were very lucky to have been able to learn from our previous intermediate instructors, Mike Boyd and Carol Figdore, and although we have modified their template over the past few years, their basics will always be with us….we learned from the best! "LEAN DOWNSTREAM!!" This is where a lot of students decide whether or not to continue to advance their white water careers so to speak. This is also the time one realizes they've been "hooked" by the thrills of fast moving rivers. I know I speak for my fellow instructors as well when I say that being trusted to instruct and guide our newer paddlers through this most important part of a student's learning curve, is an honor indeed. My teaching\support staff….what can I say? All incredible people, dear friends and paddlers who made my job sooooo easy. I cannot thank them enough! It very simply would not happen without their graciousness, patience, love of the sport, and eager willingness to pass on their knowledge. This level of paddling never fails to produce dramatic results, seeing our charge's skills advance so quickly in just a weekend. It is with great pride that I write of their progress, new gained experience, knowledge, and welcome our newest crew of white water warriors! Here's to many years of campfire stories of flips, boofs, rolls, squirts, enders, cartwheels, wave wheels, blunts, spins, dinged helmets, broken paddles, terminal side surfs, nuggets, flash floods, splats, the holes that swallowed us, spat us out, goose eggs , boo boos, and big water carnage! Notice I did not mention swims……they are our little secrets….
So….perhaps I should say something about the weekend now?
Figuring there was no way we would be blessed with rain and high water on the eve of said course two years in a row, I decided with consent from other instructors and students alike to take full advantage of the two day Lehigh release and make this course an over-nighter. Tricky timing with those already camping at Hickory Run, those in our Saturday morning caravan, those we met along the way, and those following my directions, all making it to the White haven put-in relatively on time! I knew from there this was gonna be a killer weekend! We had a group of 21 paddlers on Saturday and as I recall 18 on Sunday. My butchering of names from a water logged memory to come later.
For those who do not know the Lehigh, it is comprised of two sections, the upper being an eight mile run, for the most part at 750 cfs, a class II-II+. Very good training ground with a rail trail right along side all the way down, in case of someone wanting to walk out. It also offers a "bridge to bridge" 2 mile section where we could have staged a short shuttle if we decided to only use that section for the first day's training. The lower section is thirteen miles long, bigger and much longer rapids, with some class III tossed in for spice. A perfect run for Sunday's graduation trip.
Now being one who likes to make the most efficient use of my time, we decided Dave would keep the students at the put-in giving his safety talk while the rest of us ran shuttle. Kevin buddy…….got keys?  from Sunday's trip.
Upon our return, we could all just saddle up and paddle. I made sure all students were accompanied by support boaters as we put on and made our way to the big staging eddy river right some one hundred yards or so downstream, the put-in being amass with rafts and boats and lots of people. Once there, I conferred with my other instructors as to the best way to divide the group. Kim Montagne and Sue Groseclose would lead the women's group, being supported by two of their male counterparts for rescue opps. Dave Gibson would go one on one with our newest student with support from Blaine Feeser. I also like having Pat Montagne up close and personal with less experienced paddlers, this awesome dude has come a very long way in a short period of time and gained one of the healthiest respects ( not to mention mine and others personal respect) for water and water safety of anyone I know. Someone you WANT to be near if you're on new water. Did I mention how proud I was to be friends with these people???? Unbelievable. Back to the report….I would be leading the guys that had some previous experience and giving them a "workout" catching every micro eddy and ferry and surf we could find. The rest of the crew would be running safety for the divided groups, some as free lance support, being where they perceived as needed most, and our very own Shirley "Sweetyaker" Koty acting as this weekend's videographer, documenting the course, which means she basically runs the river ahead of us and waits with camera ready hoping for as much carnage as possible…….."safety schmafety" she thinks to herself….I can hear her thoughts….." I JUST WANT GOOD FOOTAGE FOR THE SUPER SUPPER SOCIAL"!
And here boys and gals is where I have to loudly APPLAUD the fine lady paddlers we are so lucky to be associated with. We have many on the white water side of things. I had four….count em…..FOUR female instructors on this trip. Kim, Sue, Evy, and Shirley watching after two female students. And on Sunday, we had Erin join us for support and a fun filled day of river running. Talk about coming up the ranks quickly….Erin has just started boating last January and has already tackled the lower Yough, Cheat, and others. She will absolutely jump into any hole she finds! We really missed ya on this one ART! I along with others, thought it important to keep the gals all together, the reasoning being the ladies would be instructed with and from a woman's' perspective. It's also about comfort and fun after all. And Kim and crew are as up to the task of teaching and leading their students down the sweet lines as anyone out there! Let's face it, guys when in doubt will simply power their way through everything and see what happens. The ladies on the other hand, know right off it's all about finesse and grace and…..hmmmm which pair of shoes will I buy next? Just kidding…..our lady white water athletes are more prone to be dreaming of new bent shaft paddles rather than , did I say shoes? As one would expect when upping the ante, the first few rapids saw some shakiness and a few swims, par for the course when students meet new challenges. The instructors quickly pick up on how far to push each individual's limits without overwhelming them, observing not only the physical abilities but also and most importantly the mental attitude, are they still smiling? Can't stress the FUN FACTOR enough. The last thing we want is for a student to go home, hang the boat in the garage, and never paddle again. We watch our brood well indeed; after all they are already our paddling buddies and will soon enough be helping tend other new kayakers in turn.
Sunday would see us on the lower section of the river. By now everyone was a Lehigh "veteran" and ready to step up to some mild class III. The second day of the intermediate course is more of a graduation trip if you will. We still stick close to the newer paddlers and simply have a fun day river running and hole playing. Students can at any time work on new found skills with support boaters if so desired, but this is not a day of organized drills. I am certain we will be seeing some of these guys and gals in Jeff Beard's advanced level 1 course later this summer. LET'S BOAT!!

Instructors\support All K-1
Mike Betts ……………………..."Saddle up!"
Dave Gibson……………………"no really, I mean it! THIS year I'm getting out more"
Pat Montagne…………………..."new grandpa and still BIG water Kahuna"
Kim Montagne…………………."Queen of the River Siren's" and still prettier than Pat!
Shirley Koty……………………"Sweetyaker"….says it all don't it?"
Sue Groseclose………………….singing "School's out for summer"! < Always smilin'
Evy Stauffer……………………."play boatin super Mom"
Erin Mack………………………"What hole? Lemme at it!"
Brenton Petrillo………………..."My head sparkles! Where's the babes?"
Dave Whitmer…………………."Soon to be helmet cam master"
Jack Hill………………………..."Don't know him well enough to roast yet!"
Blain Feeser……………………."Check the new lid! I'll never get lost"
Mike Hostetter…………………"Chick Magnet"
Kevin Vesely………………….."Mr. Vertical"
Seth ………………….."Outta my hole ya Pelican"!
Ken Gustavsen…………………"Honest honey, You'll be fine!"

 

Students All K-1
Peggy Gustavsen………………"Fine huh? Just you wait!"
Gay Bearzi…………………………..."I want water falls!"
Ed Spayd………………………"Long boat master, Jeff Beard would have been proud!
Mike Marchio…………………."Out of my way Jeff!"
Jeff Groft………………………"Out of your way? I gotta bear chasin me!"
Eric McClary………………….."WOW This river looks different than the last time!"
Tony Lobato……………………"Hey! That's my eddy!"
Bill Schneider…………………."Now it makes sense….let's up this another class!"

Good Job ya'll!!

Trip Report Archive

Club Homepage