The country river that became the whitewater kayaking hotbed

Published May 18, 2016 in Sports & Adventure

I love my small countryside town. I have lived here all the days of my life. My father and my grandfather also lived here. My grandfather came to the town when it was nothing but a few adobe houses and he decided to settle here and grow barley like the other farmers around the settlement. The area was fertile and it was bordered by two rivers running parallel each on one end of the town. Our ancestral land happened to touch on one of the rivers.

My grandfather often told me how the river had once been a very important avenue for trade before the introduction of the railway. Barges would come from a long distance in either direction and they would bring all kinds of goods that could be used for trade. Farm materials, seeds, tools, guns and ammunitions, clothes, all kinds of building materials, and home appliances would be delivered over the waters of the river.

My grandfather had been lucky to get land that touched on a favorable part of the river where the barges could dock and offload their luggage. Farmers could also bring their harvested barley and load it onto barges that would ship it off to markets a far off.

The other river on the other extreme side of the town was however not as commercially viable as the river on our end. The river was just not navigable for the goods laden barges. There were too many rapids on the river and any barge that attempted to traverse these waters would be smashed to pieces.

For a long time the river was therefore ignored as a transportation avenue. However, the river did not become any less popular hugely due to fish populations. There were all kinds of fish in this river and it had been used from days immemorial as a prime source of fish.

When I was growing up, another activity became very common on the river. Whitewater kayaking. Adventurous people discovered that they could use the river course as their route for water racing. Where the other boats could not manage to safely maneuver across, the daredevil water sportsmen were thrilled to race across in kayaks.

The water channel became so popular especially due to its treacherous waters. Anyone who conquered the rapids had to be a real pro. The waters were considered the toughest to navigate especially during the rainy season when the waters were furiously gushing downstream.

The kayakers were a great sight for us little boys of the town. Whenever the racing season would begin, we would all flock along the river where we would wait for the helmeted racers buried waist deep in short brightly colored kayaks. We would wait for them along the most treacherous rapids where we could be able to see the most dramatic action.

The racers would come hurtling down the river like bees on the swarming river.  The currents would sway them from side to side as they expertly used their bodies and their double padded paddles to control their kayaks.

Once they reached the rapids they would be wildly hurled across and they would frantically fight to maintain control of their vessels. Every now and then a kayak would capsize much to our exhilaration. The paddlers would the expertly fight and right the kayak again. Fortunately, we never witnessed any fatal accidents.

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