Man, what a long day. I got up at 5:30 am and got home after 10:30 pm. About 1/3 the way there, I carpooled with Jana and Stephen, and a couple of kids who seemed more accustomed to video games and smartphones than mountains and fresh air. I was a farm kid who had to load hay and do other chores in the sweltering heat of Summer, so if somebody had taken me to the Mountains to swim and paddle around in the cool water and breathtaking scenery on a beautiful day, I would have been thrilled! We had a large group of around 20 people loitering around Robert L Weddle’s camper, signing the waivers and such. Robert, and Mike Winchester, and Nick Lilley, all gave some instructions and good advice on roll theory. We went to the lake, and I was happy to get into the water, plus my roll was going pretty well and feeling more consistent that it did earlier in the week.
We found a few people at the lake who maybe weren’t quite ready to attempt a river roll, but Robert and Mike helped them out. People went over one at a time to roll for Mike or Robert and get some advice on their roll. We had a broad group of paddlers. Some were veteran, experienced paddlers who had gotten rusty with their roll, some were highly skilled boaters who there to support a significant other, and of course a lot of newer boaters trying to step up.
As usual, at the river we divided into two groups. Robert led down the first group who had the stronger roll. We worked a few features to warm up, but mostly kept moving to get down to our “roll spots”. Mike took the people with the less confident roll down and they focused more on working the features of the river and developing more boat control. Robert decided to do something new this time. We stopped at 1st Hole rapid (just after the railroad bridge) and did a bunch of rolls there. The more confident or aggressive paddlers went up to surf the hole, knowing that the majority of times it would result in a flip. I love playing there. You stick your nose in the river right corner of the hole (player’s left) and it will stand you up! I saw Lisa Haskell go full vertical and flip over forward! The rest of the group tried some current rolls in the swirly water just below the hole.
Our other practice spot was at the bottom of Prudential rock rapid (or 2nd hole). We practiced rolling here for an extended time, and only had 1 or 2 swims, thanks to group members spotting for each other. The Macon guys were looking great. Jimmy was getting flustered earlier in the trip, but he really started to pull things together at the end. Mark was looking great, frankly his rolls were some of the best rolls on the trip. Robert Iseley was looking really sharp. His roll is explosive and fast. Carol Reiser was looking confident! Richard Salenfriend looked super strong, Ocoee ready! I know I left a bunch of folks out, but this is getting long. Now, the best for last. One of the instructors, Nick Lilley, SWAM at first hole! Ah hahahaha! I heard his team gnar gnar card had been temporarily suspended. Nick gave us this convoluted story about his paddle blade getting hung up in some rocks and letting go to not break his paddle, but who knows……..;)… I’m hoping we will do this clinic again latter in the Summer.