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Event Report: Little White Salmon Race
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Event Report: Little White Salmon Race

Event Report: Little White Salmon Race

--When, Where, Conditions--
When: May 2
Location: Little White Salmon
Conditions: Most Jah
Duration: 19min 26 sec
Difficulty: Class V

The Report: This weekend I got to realize a personal goal of participating in and finishing the Little White Salmon Race. This was something I never thought I would do when I started kayaking four and a half years ago. I never thought I would run waterfalls and run anything harder than class III, but a great community, better friends, and a good amount of determination put me at the starting line of Getting Busy this past Saturday. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to starting positions.. Some of my friends found themselves being preceded and followed by their friends. I found myself placed between two individuals who I have only just met personally this year. But I have watched videos and followed their progress for a while now. Nothing to motivate you to go 'fast' like a pro in front and behind. The fear of getting lapped was palpable.

My game plan for the whole race was to go at about 70 percent of my max so that if anything did mess up I'd be able to roll and continue paddling and hopefully avoid a swim. The format of the race requires that you be prepared to run the Little White solo from the start of Getting Busy to the pool at Wishbone. You probably won't see another human being other than the safety crews, which were interspersed between some of the harder drops. Most of the time you were alone enjoying the sound of water and labored breathing as you push ever closer to the finish line.

Coming through Getting Busy to Island my game plan was mostly to avoid rocks/pitons. As I reached Boulder Sluice the number of the spectators with the first thing that hit me. I'd never seen so many people there before. You could almost smell all the people that came down to watch. I tried to throw a itty bitty brown claw but was a bit too in the moment for tricks. It ended up just looking like I let go my paddle for a second at the lip. I continued downstream to island then on to sacriledge, double drop, S-turn and on. There are so many rapids in this race. It's ~2 1/4 miles through the steepest sections of the Little White. The only named drops not in the course are the Squeezes, Horseshoe, Stovepipe, Spirit Falls, and Master Blaster.

After a lot of paddling I found myself on the lead in to Bowey's Hotel & finally Wishbone. It was here as I heard my friend Liam yelling from shore that I realized the race is almost over and I may not have paddled as hard as I could. I wasn't too tired coming in to the finish line. But racing is about having a plan and executing it. I paddled exactly (mostly) like I wanted to and I finished the race. Still, what better way to finish than to launch yourself off a 18 or so foot waterfall and see a crowd of people cheering you on to just keep paddling until your cross the finish.

That moment is why I race. To know that I can paddle myself down some of the hardest whitewater that I've ever personally challenged myself with and still be smiling and happy with my performance when I hit the finish line. Then to watch all of those folks that I got to paddle with throw down on spirit falls on the way home... all in all a most JAH day. The soul boating, the solo boating, the camaraderie, the after party. Little White every day forever.

Little White Salmon

 

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