Open Canoe Technique: Creekin’ Rocks


Running steep, low volume rivers draws on both traditional water reading skills and a host of unique tricks designed to take advantage of exposed rocks. Using rocks to guide your canoe through rapids is an important skill for creek runs. Exposed rocks beside a drop can create a great launch pad and bouncing off a series of rocks can direct you to that hard-to-reach eddy. When river running, a canoeist who strikes a rock might say, “I meant to hit that!” at best, it comes off as weak justification for drifting off line. In creeking, doing so is part of the game.



A pioneer of many first descents of creeks in the southern U.S., Dave “Psycho” Simpson coined the phrase that went something like, “It ain’t if you hit a rock or not, it’s if you hit the rock and bounce the right way.” In low flow, steep creek, rocks often can’t be avoided—use them to assist your boat’s placement. Some of the best lines will use a mix of main channel water and boulders to descend a steep run. Rocks give you an advantage because they offer the opportunity for a quick change in direction that no stroke can match…


To read more about open canoe creeking, check out Rapid, Early Summer 2013. Download our free iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch App or Android App or read the rest here.



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