ACA Swiftwater Rescue Experience

2 06 2017

live bait

If I had to identify with just one sport, it would be cycling. I’m an instructor for Bike Safety Education and Mountain Bike Adventure summer camps through the River House Outdoor Center. I raced extensively for seven years, two at the national level, and worked at bike shops for several years.  I have taught numerous bike skills clinics. When it comes to biking, I know my stuff.

That is not the case with river sports. While I have enjoyed some time rafting, canoeing, SUP’ing, or just hanging out and playing in the water, I’m a total beginner at all river and paddle sports. The truth is, the river scares me a little. I have never been very sure of what’s going on under that blue shimmer and white splashes, so I have remained hesitant to get completely obsessed with any river sport. I tried learning to kayak years ago, and just couldn’t get the roll down, so I gave up.

This will be my first summer working for the River House, and I plan to utilize all the opportunities available to me to expand my knowledge and add to my skills. Oregon offers so many awesome rivers, full fun activity and adventure, so I set for myself the goal to learn more skills and become proficient in a variety of river activities. A big first step was taking a Swiftwater Rescue certification class through American Canoe Association (ACA). I had to miss a few great mountain bike rides, but dedicating my weekend to personal growth and education was absolutely worth it!

Our instructor, Marciel Bieg, also a River House employee, started by laying the groundwork and philosophy—our priorities when doing a rescue. Number one, don’t become another victim! Just a few hours in the classroom covered all the basics. Then we learned to use throw ropes on dry land. By afternoon we were practicing rescue techniques in a rapid near the Autzen Footbridge.

On day two we learned a variety of anchor systems and mechanical advantage systems. My knowledge of rock climbing anchors really helped here, but even those with little experience learned to create safe anchors from a variety of materials. Then we piled on a bus and took to Row River to practice our skills.

We floated down a small rapid, practiced throw ropes and live bait rescue techniques. One of my favorite parts was trying to wade across the swift-moving river. It was a huge challenge, and I found myself floating downstream, never making it to the other side. We crossed with partners, and even rescued a “victim” as a group.

This experience helped me gain an enormous amount of confidence in the river. I am now able to advance my skills and knowledge of rafting and SUP’ing, knowing that I can handle whatever situation arises and help keep myself and the people around me safe.

This course is not just for professional guides. Literally ANYONE spending time in and around the river—it’s Eugene, so that’s pretty much everyone—would benefit from taking a Swiftwater Rescue course, or some kind of river safety education material our course.

I’m looking forward to an awesome summer full of mountain biking and river adventures!

-Misha Fuller

(The River House Instructor Development Fund makes money available for staff to use to better their skills through classes and training. In return the River House receives highly skilled staff and blog posts describing their experiences.)

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Bier Stein and Elysian Brewing help support the River House and free skateboard lessons.

13 04 2017

Bier Stein of Eugene and Elysian Brewing of Seattle are teaming up to help our very own skateboard program and get more kids and adults on skateboards with free lesson at the WJ Skatepark.

Every Elysian beer purchased at the Bier Stein earns a raffle ticket and $1 for the River House Skateboard program.  Additional tickets can also be purchased for the final raffle drawing of an Elysian skateboard and other prizes on May 13.

The fundraising event runs April 7 – May 12.

Free skate lessons happen at the Washington Jefferson Skatepark April 18 – June 13.    Tuesdays 3:30 – 5:30 pm and Saturdays 10:00 – 12:00 pm.  Participants under 18 must have a guardian sign at the first visit.           BierStein-Elysian fundraise

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Dog Water Sport Gear List

6 04 2017

written by: @lifewithmutts

Original Article Here

Spring is here! It’s really starting to warm up in the South and for our pack that means we’re heading back out on the water. Time to dust off the cobwebs on the kayaks and stand up paddle board that have been sitting idly in the garage all winter.

For those of you who have never tried a water sport with your pup, you may have questions about what kind of gear you need. After years of kayaking and SUPing with my dogs, I have a pretty solid list in my head of what I need when we pack up and head to the lake or the river.

Here are our must-have items:

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 **Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that if you buy one of the suggested products using the links provided,  we will make a few cents to help keep our blog up and running, at no cost to you.

1. Watercraft (Kayak, SUP, Canoe)

Obviously in order to spent time ON the water, you need some sort of watercraft. Our favorites are kayaks and stand up paddle boards. You don’t have to go out and purchase an expensive kayak or board to try the sport though. Canoe and kayak rentals have always been pretty abundant, but as the sport of SUP continues to grow, there are now a good amount of options to rent them too, many of which are dog friendly. Just make sure you call ahead and let them know that you’re bringing your furry friend!

(Also, don’t forget your paddle. Sounds like a no-brainer, but believe me it happens!)

2. Life Jackets

If you’ve ever rented a kayak or even canoed at scout camp as a kid, bringing a life jacket for yourself when you’re on the water is probably a no-brainer. In fact, many towns and parks mandate that you wear a life jacket on the water, or at least have one with you on your boat/board. But what about your dog? Even if your dog is a great swimmer, if they are new to water sports, they may fall in accidentally and be caught off guard. Better safe than sorry! My dogs can swim and are paddle pros, but I always make sure they’re wearing a life jacket when we kayak and SUP, just in case.

For the last year, we have been using Alcott Mariner Life Jackets,which are a super affordable option at only $26.99. You can read our review here. We are now testing out the new Hurtta Life Savior, which is a more premium jacket. We will post a full review for that shortly as well. (So far we absolutely love them too!)

3. Floating Lead

Another safety precaution that you may want to consider is a floating lead. We always bring one on trips down the river or for open-water paddles, anywhere that has a current or that may be choppy. Even good swimmers can get in over their head in choppy conditions or fast-moving water, making a safety line a really great idea. This will allow you to grab your dog if they fall in the water or swim too far away and get stuck in the current.

Look for a floating lead with a carabiner hook on the end, so you can hook and unhook your dog easily. Never tie a rope to your dog’s collar! If they get tangled on a fallen limb or if the rope gets wrapped around theirs legs, this could be a dangerous situation. You need something that you can detach easily. Also, never use a regular leash or long line that. If you use something that doesn’t float, it adds extra weight as well as increases the chance of your dog stuck on something as the leash drags behind them underwater. We use this 20-foot floating lead from Sport Lines.

4. Water

This is one of those things that may sound like common sense, but it’s easy to forget to bring water when your’e going TO the water. Bring enough for yourself AND your dog(s).  Dogs get hot and dehydrate quickly when you’re out in the middle of a lake, river, or ocean with no shade and sun reflecting off the water.

5. Collapsible Dog Bowl

Don’t forget a dog bowl too! Bringing water for your pup is pretty useless if you end up wasting half of it trying to use your hand as a bowl! We use this small collapsible silicone bowl from Dexas. It ‘s small and lightweight and can be clipped onto your board or kayak with the attached carabiner.

6. Dry Bag or Dry Box

It’s always smart to keep a phone on you in case of emergencies… if you get lost or stranded, injured, etc, it’s important to have a way to tell people where you are. BUT phones are expensive and most of them do not do well when wet, so it’s important to bring a dry bag or a dry box to keep your phone, keys, and any other personal items dry and secure. I picked up this inexpensive dry box a few years ago for under 10 dollars and it’s still going strong. For longer paddles or when I want to bring more than just a phone and keys (snacks, money, dog treats, camera, etc) I use this dry bag from H2Zero.

7. Waterproof Camera or Phone Case

Spending time with your dog on the water is fun. It’s an activity that is sure to make some great memories. Be sure to bring either a waterproof camera like a GoPro or for a cheaper option, pick up a universal waterproof phone case to keep your phone dry so you can capture the highlights!

8. Snacks & Treats

Paddling is a great workout for you and your pup. Bring high-protein snacks like granola bars or trail mix to keep your energy up. Don’t forget treats for your pup too! They need energy just like we do, and they’re also great for training if your dog is new to water sports!

9. Cheap Sunglasses & Flip-flops

You will lose them. Maybe not today, but someday, and you will thank me. Leave the Ray-Bans and Rainbow sandals at home and grab no-name brand shades and shoes, just in case. You’ll care a LITTLE less if they float away (or sink).

Fun extras:

In addition to our must-haves, here are some other ideas to make your day on the water even more fun. A fetch toy that floats is great way to keep your dog entertained while burning off some of their energy! The Ruffwear Lunker is a floating toy that is sure to be a big hit with your water-loving pup. You can also bring a small cooler and find a cute little beach or riverbank to pull off and have a picnic. Also, don’t forget sunscreen! Remember that you aren’t only getting the rays from the sun directly, but also reflecting back at you off the water.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to stay safe and have fun with your pup!

Want to SUP or Kayak with your pup but don’t know where to start? Check out our “SUP with your PUP” post.

Do you have other gear that you bring on the water with your dog or questions about the gear we use?

Thanks for reading!

Debbie & Roxie

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The Big Andrew Foundation presents The White Salmon Kayak Race

5 04 2017

andrewkayak

Founded in 2008 following the passing of  Andrew Gmelch, who at 15 years old lost his 2 year battle with cancer, The Big Andrew Foundation is a community based non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness as well as financial and moral support for cancer patients and their families.

All proceeds from the event go to the Tom Potter Expense Relief Fund and the Providence Hood River Oncology Center.

June 3rd is the 1st Annual Big Andrew White Salmon Kayak Race that will bring together an epic group of paddlers on a classic piece of PNW whitewater. Utilizing a time-trial format, racers will start just below BZ falls and make their way five miles downstream to the finish line in Husum, WA. Spectators will enjoy excellent viewing at the BZ corner launch site, with unrestricted access to the scenic shores of the White Salmon river. Kegs of cold Ninkasi beer will be conveniently located at BZ corner start area and Husum falls finish line.

For more info on The Big Andrew Foundation- TheBigAndrew.com

To sign-up for the event or learn more- Kayak Race

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Who says Skating is an Urban Endeavor?

16 03 2017

NORTHBOUND | Skateboarding on Frozen Sand 4K from Turbin Film on Vimeo.

Skaters and artistic expression go together like peanut butter and jelly.  This new video from the frozen Norway coast continues to push what can be skated and how to beautifully film it.          “It’s cool to be somewhere where the eagles want to be.”

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How Small Things may help Overcome Fear

15 03 2017

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Sometimes what seems a simple activity to some, can be a challenge to others.  You may know, if you put sunflower seeds in your hand and hold very, very still, the birds will come when near alpine environments.  Habituating wildlife to humans is frowned upon, but in this instance, it was a challenge for overcoming fear.

Cary is a gentleman working to overcome fear and nervous about life after spending significant time in prison.  After a conversation about overcoming fears in daily life, he decided to try having a bird land on his hand even though he was really scared to do so.

Cary succeeded in his goal and has not stopped talking about it since.  This is a simple, but good reminder how healing nature can be, especially when you transfer the learning that happens outside into your daily regime.

Sponsor Inc. Mentor program helps match community volunteers with men and women just released from prison. The role of mentors is to guide and support these individuals into a successful reentry into our community, and they only ask for about 4-6 hours of your time each month.

For More info, contact:

Jen Jackson at Sponsors 541-505-5663

For an additional article about Sponsors from Outside Magazine see:

https://eugeneoutdoorprogram.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/is-nature-the-key-to-rehabilitating-prisoners/

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Swift Water Rescue Training

28 02 2017

swiftWith all the luck of the sky and the mountains, the storms have returned gifting us all with an abundance of sleet, snow pack, and rain drops.  The essence of life.  Thanks to an intricate and unexplainable series of fortunate events, I find myself granted the opportunity to travel into the heart of the forest and mountains; to travel into the river itself.  What’s more is the unexplainable magic of the opportunity to take part in the re-creation of the experience and adventure within the lives of others, from all walks of life, by means of a sea worthy whitewater raft.  Though simple in concept, these adventures and undertakings of which hold the power to shape shift lives and worlds, are also undeniably counterbalanced by the weight of risk.

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