What a great weekend! It was graduation weekend at Canoe U and I helped teach the Whitewater Continuum class. With Bobzilla as the lead instructor, 7 motivated and talented students, and 2 awesome safety boaters, it was tough to go wrong.
We had perfect weather on Saturday for our run of the top portion of the Lower Louey. We practiced skills and played on the features from just below the big rock tongue (which I've now found out is called Tablesaw) through Big Glassy. The dam was releasing 660 cfs for us, so there was plenty to challenge the students with. We refreshed the basics, worked on boofs and attainments, talked about how to get the most out of a short boat, and spent lots of time practicing moves in and out of the swift current.
Bob and I were lucky to have Jeremiah and Brian J, both expert-level boaters and great teachers, as safety for us. We were even luckier, however, to have students that were so good at rolling and self-rescue that the safety boaters were barely necessary. That left them free to help teach and keep students engaged.
Day two was on the Upper St. Louis, which was running at about 1700cfs. Our students spent lots of time working on draws and draw ferries, as well as surfing skills. It was amazing to see how much their paddling improved just over the weekend. By the end of the day Sunday the whole group was comfortable with moves that were brand new on Friday. Whether it was ferrying out onto 1st Wave using only a draw, taking charge and controlling the tempo through a rapid, making a mid-air boof turn to catch a micro eddie in the middle of 210, or any of the awesome moves made this weekend, the students were tearing the Louey to shreds. Throughout the weekend I saw every paddler in the group hit at least one major milestone moment like that. Watching them hit those moves and really take control was nothing short of inspiring and I was smiling all the way home thinking about the weekend's highlights.
Much of the credit for those improvements has to go to the students, who gave 100% to every skill we showed them. The rest, however, goes to Bobzilla for putting together a program that really pushes paddlers but never loses the fun and adventure that makes the sport so great. His creativity and technical expertise really show and I feel fortunate for the opportunity to teach with him.
A big thanks goes out to Bob Dodds for cooking a wonderful meal on Saturday night, complete with a flaming dessert! Also, thanks again to Alan, Chad, Art, and all of the others who put in the effort behind the scenes to make Canoe U happen.
Finally, big thanks to Jeremiah for taking the river pics this weekend. I didn't get a chance to take any, so he stepped in and got some shots of the students in action. Now I'm looking forward to spending a weekend in the Twin Cities and then to the Survivor's Party!