At the put-in we listened to Joe Petolino giving a classroom lecture on the “eddy out”, and Penny Wells gave a lecture on “ferry angles”. On rivers there are often calm spots, called an eddy, behind rocks or other obstacles. As you turn your boat into one of these it is supposed to be easy to fall over, unless you have had training to raise the correct edge of your boat and brace in the correct direction. This is one of those tricks that seems counter intuitive at first so it is recommended that you get instruction. Whenever crossing water that has a current, you need to point your boat slightly upstream as you paddle if you want your course to be straight across the river. This is more intuitive to most people than edging when entering an eddy, but there are interesting tricks to help out, like “ranging” or using parallax to tell if you are keeping to your course.
After the classroom lesson on shore, we were finally allowed to get in our boats in the water. The current in the American River in this area is not very strong and we had to work hard to find eddies to practice in. Ferry angles could be practiced anywhere. In the whole section of river we paddled there was only one rapid that was rated class II. We skirted around it at first and then most of us paddled up into it from downstream to practice eddy turns into the water rushing out between the rocks at the bottom.
Sometime during this day on the river, in calm water, with no excuses, I managed to stress my right elbow joint very severely. I think I started to fall over and braced with my arm in a poor position. I was using a big round river paddle and it can bite into the water with more force than my normal Greenland paddle. Normally it takes hours of abusing my joints in the surf to make my elbow hurt as much as one second of stress did in this case. Like tendentious, this injury to my elbow would turn out to take months to get better and was destined to have a big impact on my kayaking.
A friend of mine, Jay Jaeckel, was vacationing nearby, visiting me and volunteered to be our “shuttle bunny”. This means that he drove my car from the put-in to the take-out so we didn’t have to bicycle back to our cars. Jay also made an extra trip down and back before the start of the trip to allow every one else to move their cars down. So by the time we made it to the take-out all our cars were waiting for us. To reward Jay for providing this service, we offered to take him out to dinner afterwards. It was such a wonderful sunny afternoon when we finished packing up all our gear, however, that instead of going off to a restaurant we took Lisa Oulette up on her offer to cook dinner at her house nearby. We stopped at the supermarket and picked up a huge chunk of salmon to BBQ, among other summer faire. Jay enjoyed the dinner so much he mused out loud if it was possible to be a shuttle bunny as a full-time occupation.