When all the dangerous cliffs are fenced off, all the trees that might fall on people are cut down,all of the insects that bite are poisoned… and all of the grizzlies are dead because they are occasionally dangerous, the wilderness will not be made safe. Rather, the safety will have destroyed the wilderness. R. Yorke Edwards
I listened to the reaction of the morning area television anchors watching the video that went viral last month of two professional kayakers plunging over 65-foot Cumberland Falls. As they broadcasted it to their viewers they used the words foolish, stupid and crazy to the describe the trip over the frigid falls in Kentucky. They ended the clip by telling their viewers that the two cited and fined a couple of hundred dollars for trespassing and that the two won't be attempting this stunt again anytime soon. Just the thought of going over any waterfall seemed inconceivable and little bit crazy to them. But, on social media, where we seem to look for amazing and wild exploits on a daily basis the video received more than a million views, and more than 22,000 shares.
"We did not expect it to get thousands of views or for people to be there watching," Nick Troutman, told WKYT-TV, "We were super intrigued by the falls. It was more just a personal goal we set. "
Brothers-in-laws and world champion freestyle kayakers, Dane Jackson and Troutman have years of experience on even rougher waters and have been down much bigger waterfalls. "We scouted the area and got our safety plan together," explained Troutman. Unfortunately, they missed that going over the falls was illegal.
"There are signs there saying no swimming, wading, or boating in that area," said Kentucky's State Parks Captain Dallas Luttrell to WKYT-TV, "It is extremely dangerous not only for those participating but also for the first responders who would have to go out there. For the main reason of safety, it is simply not allowed,."
The park ranger say those rules are in place for a reason and what is seen in the videos is strongly discouraged. "I would not encourage just anybody to go out and try it." agreed Troutman, "It does not work like that."
Extreme athlete and kayaker Tyler Bradt isn't just anybody. In 2010, his insane 189-foot free fall over Palouse Falls in Washington state shattered the world record for the tallest waterfall ever paddled. He told Men's Fitness how he survived his death-defying plunge. “When you hop in your boat at the top—that’s the scariest moment, up there on flat water getting ready to drop over a very big horizon." said Bradt, "Once you’re in the kayak and approaching the falls, keep one blade in the water to control the angle of your approach. When you’re paddling toward the lip of the waterfall, the key is to take a couple of strokes to get going just a little faster than the water around you before you drop.”
"You’re thinking, ‘Am I making the right decision? Is this a good idea? Bradt, continued, "The enormity of your situation is overwhelming, but it’s also the moment you need to react. That’s when I move into my tuck so I won’t land flat on my back or go upside down. When you land you want to be fully forward on the front of your deck with your paddle off to the side so it doesn’t come back and hit you.”
"It's a great adrenaline rush," blogged former member of the Canadian Freestyle Whitewater Kayak Team and Bronze medalist, Anna Levesque, she has paddled in some of the biggest water around the world and leads whitewater clinics in Central America. "The feeling of dropping off the edge can be thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Stay focused on your paddling not on your nerves."
The moment of glory comes when the kayaker sticks the landing. “The goal is to land with your boat vertical. You want to land feet down so that you’re penetrating the water surface with the least amount of impact." said Bradt, "My paddle snapped. It really dazed me. It’s an impact that I’ve never felt before—like a car crash."
Compare to that, Troutman's and Jackson's made their plunges look almost easy, "I hit the line exactly how I had planned and couldn’t of been happier." Troutman later posted on Facebook.
After fulfilling their wild ride, the two extreme athletes both agreed it's something they like to attempt again, only legally next time. "We did end up getting a fine from the park ranger, though he was good-mannered about the situation." posted Troutman, "Hopefully we can apply for a permit or something because it truly is a really beautiful waterfall and we were honored to ride it." Dane Jackson agreed in his Facebook post, "Pretty stoked to have sent Cumberland Falls! Bummed that it ended in getting charged with trespassing, but it’s still an epic waterfall and one of my new favorites!”