coastal british columbia  

Running Waterfalls By Paul Kowatch  


photo of ww kayaker on the puntledge river, Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia, Canada

Running Waterfalls

By Paul Kowatch


photo of ww kayaker on the puntledge river, Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia, Canada

The fear in my stomach was growing, I swallowed hard, and wondered why I was here. Last December my wife bought me a Pirouette S for Christmas and I nearly froze paddling the Puntledge River. Since then I had people teach me how to roll, Kevin does the C to C and Tim the Sweep so I guess it was natural for me to do a screw roll. Still it seems to work and I like it. I have used it when I got my first stern squirt in a playhole and had to roll in turbulent water. It also worked at Long Beach when I was getting trashed by the waves.

I had been working on surfing, both side and front on the Puntledge but now that river has not a lot of water in it so on to new things. Running Englishman River Falls wasn't my idea but having only seen a picture it sounded like a great idea. We would have supper afterwards all the wives/girlfriends would come take pictures and video, then we would sit around and tell each other how good we were. I was even going to get hot dogs which can be a treat when you are on a low cholesterol diet, I mean these were real hot dogs, no soy or any of that stuff. We are talking pure Beef by-products. I just need to paddle over the edge to make all this happen. I guess I could back out but I have done enough of that.

photo of ww kayaker on the puntledge river, Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia, Canada

When we paddled the Chemainus,
after I swam in the first canyon,
after my first roll attempt failed,
with my confidence wobbly,
I walked the next rapid.

I had also walked around the dam at the fish hatchery on the Puntledge because once I had a problem eddying out and watched my boat go over the dam and stay in the whitewater for about 10 mins. It seemed like hours to me. So every time I paddle up to it I watch the others run it and I would get out. So now I do some deep breathing exercises and focus on the chute. This waterfall is only about 20 feet high, I had practised off a bridge on Comox Lake that was 13 feet high and that was fun.

I can't hear anything and see only the edge, I paddle up with determination, too late to turn back now. Lean way back and then suddenly I am in darkness. On the video my stern squirts out of the water and I am upside down, all I know is that I need to roll.

photo of ww kayaker on the puntledge river, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

When I am up my hearing returns and I hear myself scream like a lunatic. I paddle over to a spot where I can watch my partners come over, they all do it with more style than me. I wasn't so scared on my third and last attempt, this time I really powered over, I still needed to roll up and managed to. So now I get to eat my hot dogs. Sitting down after supper playing with my six year old daughter I am laughing and having fun and wonder what do we do to top this.

Paul.

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