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There are many fun rapids and waterfalls out there that are not located in the middle of a river run. Sometimes, you just want to pull the vehicle over, run one drop, and get back in to move on to the next adventure.
Sometimes, you just want to pull the vehicle over, run one drop, and get back in to move on to the next adventure. While this is extremely fun to do, and is generally how the largest drops in the world are run, many people have trouble with getting themselves in the right mindset and zone for running a park and huck. It feels strange committing to something challenging with cold muscles and having the first couple of paddle strokes being out of the eddy and straight into the action.
Photo by Bryan Kirk
This is not an abnormal feeling... it's very natural to be tentative about running a big rapid without getting that paddling warmup that you usually get on home river runs. Our bodies are like an Indy race car- we can't just turn the machine on and immediately redline! Any machine needs a proper warmup to run at it's highest level, and our body is no different.
I'm far from a cutting edge big waterfall huckster, but I have run a few drops in the 35-90 foot range, all of which have been with no warm-up rapids above them. I have been fortunate with good lines on all of them(knock on wood), and one thing that has worked well for me and others is using a series of simple exercises to get the blood and oxygen flowing in my muscles. By warming up properly, you allow yourself to be more resilient to the massive impacts that can come with these drops, and also allow yourself to feel more fluid and at-home in the river. You can also output higher levels of work capacity (paddle harder to save yourself/rescue your buddy) if you need to.
**Keep in mind you don't need to be running huge drops to find value in this- it helps to be warmed up no matter what size rapid you're looking at**
This is what I do if there is no way I can paddle before I slide into the river. If there is water nearby, by all means incorporate an on-water warmup too. But this is my absolute bare minimum for running something big:
Now go and style the crap out of that rapid, because you are properly warmed up.
Photo by Adam Goshorn
I hope this has been helpful, and I'll see you at the next horizon line!