When instructing students in the fine art of river paddling, one of the first lessons is to avoid colliding with objects in the river. Whether they are man made or natural, it’s always a good idea to avoid close contact with anything but the smoothest of water. However, on a recent paddle down the Lumber River, I had a classic “do as I say, not as I do,” moment. While looking down river and attempting to help a paddler avoid a collision with a log, I slammed into one myself. This was not a light impact incident but a full, direct hit on a large, semi-submerged log. It’s amazing I didn’t capsize or at least shake a few fillings loose.
That got me thinking about stump jumping in the Lumber River. A natural and scenic river, the Lumber, befitting it’s name is chock full of logs and trees. When the river runs high, you can cruise right over these obstacles. When it’s running low, you may spend more time out of your boat than in it, dragging yourself over downed trees. When the river reaches a water level some where in the middle, you have a sort of “sweet spot” for stump jumping. The trick here is to find a log that sits just beneath the water line. If it’s been there a while, it should be nicely smoothed out. This makes for a smooth “jump” over the log with your kayak. The key to effective stump jumping is a fast, straight approach with your boat. River stump jumping, just like hopping logs with a mountain bike, requires 100% commitment. Half assed measures will not do and will probably result in getting stuck on the log or rolling your boat. If you cross the log with enough speed, you might even catch some air!
Just remember, I bear no responsibility for broken boats or lost fillings. Now get out there and do as I say and not as I did!