Friday, June 11, 2021

Adiós and Vaya Con Dios


                         I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand
                         Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand
                         Life is good today, life is good today --- Zac Brown


We lounged there under an umbrella gazing at the unmistakable aqua splendor of the Caribbean Sea. The salt spray of the breaking surf hung in the air gave our lungs an instant feeling of ease. The snow-white sand sifted between our toes when we dared to rush toward the curling waves. The rhythmic waves seemed to leaves in a hypnotized state. It was hard to not look away. Not to peer out and wonder. I can't quite explain it, but there's just something so magical about spending a day by the ocean. 

Cancun paddling

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.'' said underwater explorer and conservationist Jacques Yves Cousteau.

The trip to Cancun, Mexico, was the kickoff to our summer. And after the last 16 months of living in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was a pure pleasure to sit in the sultry sun relaxing at a luxury spa. I know I could get used to this all-inclusive lifestyle. We even got to kayak one day, where I looked down into the clear water and saw dozen of starfish just below my boat.
Our days in Cancun floated by quickly. Before long, we high in the sky, heading for North Dakota to see our granddaughter and attend to some family matters. It was followed by a cross-country trip in a U-Haul truck back to California back to reality.
There was little time for a return-to-trip hang-over. A day after unloading the truck, I packed up my camping gear and headed up to Sly Park and the pine-lined views of Lake Jenkinson and running Sly Park Paddle Rentals for a long weekend. I never had it so good. 

Sly Park Paddle Rentals

“Travel changes you," celebrity world traveler Anthony Bourdain said, "As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.”


Here is a look at some of our favorite images from this year so far.

Slab Creek Reservoir

Lower American River

Lower American River with Bayside Adventure Sports

Rattlesnake Bar

Snowshoeing the China Wall with Debbie Carlson

Folsom Lake

The Lower American River

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Friday, June 4, 2021



Sly Park Recreation Area is an idyllic summer setting nestled in the Sierra foothills near Pollock Pines, California. Offering something for everyone the park is the perfect spot to visit for a day trip or kickback for a long weekend.
Surrounded by a fringe of tall pines and rocky shores, Lake Jenkinson is reminiscent of those coming of age movies about summer camp. Certainly the jewel of the park, the lake provides opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating. In other words, it's a perfect spot to paddle away the day.

Divided by a narrow channel, the lake is divided into two components. The larger lower lake is home to speedboats, picnic, and campgrounds and a swimming beach, while the upper lake has an old-fashion feel being a bit narrower and much quieter due to the 5 mph speed limit that is strictly enforced.
The upper lake is home to Sly Park Paddle Rentals which offers canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards throughout the summer on weekends in the park. For the past two seasons, The River Store & Current Adventures Kayaking School & Trips has been operating the boathouse rentals.

The boathouses hours
Fridays 9 am-5pm
Saturday 9 am-5pm 
Sunday 9 am-5pm
To help you enjoy the paddling experience of Lake Jenkinson, while at Slay Park Recreation Area here are a few tips to get you on the water.

Before you go
Plan early. While Sly Park Paddle Rentals does take walk-ups, it's best to make a reservation to ensure you get the kayak, SUP or canoe you want for an hour, all day and even overnight. You can book online at Sly Park Paddle Rentals or call 530-333-9115 or email at
Entering the park requires a day-use fee. Camping is also an additional fee and requires a reservation. You can book that through Sly Park Recreation Area.

Standup paddling boarding is extremely popular on the lake and the boards are always being rented on busy weekends. Tandem kayaks and canoes are also very popular for families to get their young children out on the water. Single kayaks are great for those who want to get out and explore while perfecting their paddling technique.
Boathouse staff recommends booking at least two hours on the water to keep having fun.

What To Bring

Sunscreen, sunglasses, snacks, and beverages (no glass containers), small ice chest(s), shoes, or sandals will make your trip more comfortable, and a COVID-19 face covering. PFDs are provided by the boathouse for both children and adults. Remember paddling even on lakes comes with inherent physical risks that can be minimized by wearing a PFD. California boating law requires every child under 13 years of age on a moving recreational vessel of any length must wear a PFD.
Also, Sly Park Paddle Rentals is implementing a few new protocols on the dock area to help keep the staff and the visitors safe and they are asking everyone to wear masks while on the dock area for everyone’s protection including our employees.

When You Are Here

Best advice, come early and stay late. The park is extremely popular on weekends and day-use quickly fills up fast. Expect a line to get in the front gate anytime after 10 AM on up to 2 PM. Beat the crowd by getting to the lake early to enjoy the best time on the lake.
Boathouse manager Nick Carlson says the lake is calm right at opening and in the evening.
"Early in the morning the wind is coming from the east, but a little after 9 it stops and the lake is like glass. It's my favorite time of the day and the best time to get on the water. Towards mid-day the wind starts up from west coming through the narrows." 

Beat the crowd all together by going on a sunset paddle on Friday evening when the boathouse is open till 8 PM. On both Fridays and Saturdays, you can rent your canoe, SUP or kayak after hours and return it the following morning. Check at Sly Park Paddle Rentals or call 530-333-9115 to check the availability of the paddle craft. What could be better than having a sunset paddle before returning to your campsite?

Parking is available at the Stonebraker Boat Launch, 2.3 miles from the park entrance. Sly Park Paddle Rentals is located near the ramp.

When You Are on The Dock
To help keep staff and visitors safe, Sly Park Paddle Rentals is asking everyone to wear a mask while on the dock to meet the State and local health requirements. Hand sanitizer is also available at the gate.
The staff will only allow one family or a group of friends on the dock at a time. Others will be asked to wait just outside the dock area until other parties left the dock to ensure safety.
Every adult has to fill out a liability waiver for themselves and their children. You can streamline this by filling out the form online when you make your reservation at Sly Park Paddle Rentals.

When on the Water
Getting on the lake is a great place to relax and have fun. Maybe take a trip up toward Sly Park Falls or just float around the narrows. However, during the current health guidelines please consider keeping a 6-foot distance between others and avoid large crowds.

If you want to go on a canoe or kayak trip at Sly Park contact:
Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips 
PHONE: 530-333-9115 or Toll-Free: 888-452-9254
FAX: 530-333-1291
USPS: Current Adventures, P.O. Box 828, Lotus, CA 95651
owner Dan Crandall

This article was originally published Outside Adventure to the Max on June 26, 2020

We are always looking for guest bloggers to share the stories and pictures of their adventures.

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Friday, May 7, 2021


Just out of reach from my hand, the last beer can of our clean-up lay sunken in the clear water of the Lower American River. We were under the old Fair Oaks Bridge along the upper part of the American River Parkway the Saturday before Earth Day. I had organized a clean-up paddled on this popular stretch of river to help celebrate the week.
I maneuvered my kayak about above the submerged Aluminum can and reached down with the end of my paddle to lift the can to the surface. No luck the drown can only fell further away. I grumbled to think how many more cans just like this one litter the river bottom.
"Looks like I'm going to get wet," I told my paddling John Taylor as I paddled toward shore.
"You're not going to be best by a beer can, are you," he said, as I got out the kayak and waded waist-deep into the chilly waters of the river.
"No, I'm not," I said, as I reached down and pulled the mud and water-filled can to the surface like it was a valuable artifact or treasure. But, my prize quickly lost its luster. I drained away the slit and water and tossed it into John's canoe full of other junk and garbage we had collected that morning, ending our clean-up battle.
When I paddle, I usually pick up trash along the way. I'm in the habit of steering toward a floating plastic bottle or fishing a beer can or plastic bag out of a tree. As a steward of the lake or river, I try to pick up and pack out litter along the waterways. However, when I'm taking part in a river clean-up, I will put in a little extra effort to make these waterways trash-free by removing unique and common items alike.
According to American Rivers, a conservation organization aimed at protecting wild rivers, restoring damaged rivers, and conserving clean water, here are the 5 most common items found in river cleanups.

Cigarette Litter

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. And if that doesn't choke you, think about this. The chemical carcinogens of discarded cigarette butts are capable of leaching into surrounding water where they can harm and kill aquatic life. A study found that one cigarette butt can kill half of the fish in 1 liter of water. That is if they don't eat them first. Wildlife often mistakes the butts for food making them another threat.
Still, cigarette butts are the most littered item on the whole planet. It's estimated that over 120 billion have been discarded into the environment and washed into our rivers and the ocean. The Ocean Conservancy’s 2018 International Coastal Cleanup Report stated that 2,412,151 cigarette butts were collected worldwide in 2017. This is an increase from the 1,863,838 butts collected around the world in 2016.

Plastic bags
The good news. Consumers in both the US, Canada, and Europe are doing a great job curbing their use of plastic bags. Fewer are ending up in waterways around the world. Several countries, states, and cities have already banned their use. We have changed our habits by taking previously used bags with us on our trip to the supper market. Plastic bags are not seen as much as they use to, hanging from the branches of trees, flying in the air on windy days, and floating on our rivers. But that does not mean they have gone entirely.
Plastic bags are still amongst the most common items found in river clean-ups. Animals and sea creatures are hurt and killed every day by discarded plastic bags that they mistake for food.
“Death from eating any of these items is not a quick one and it is not likely to be painless,” marine ecologist Dr. Lauren Roman told the Guardian, “It’s a pretty awful way to die.”
The plastic bags, over time, break down into microplastics and drift throughout the water column in the open ocean and become virtually impossible to recover.

Plastic bottles
The bad news, more and more plastic bottles are now clogging oceans and rivers. According to Healthy Human, Americans buy 29 billion water bottles a year. For every six bottles people buy, only one is recycled and U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles, that is if they even make it to the landfill. Plastic bottles tossed into a river will head downstream and eventfully end up in the ocean. Rivers are a one-way conveyor belt of material," Ocean plastic pollution researcher at the University of Plymouth, UK, Richard Thompson told New Scientist, “They connect the sea to people that could be thousands of miles inland. And their actions can have an influence on the accumulations of plastic in the oceans.”
Once there the bottles can float on the sea surface for years, if not centuries, taking a long time to break down. Currents, winds, and waves can, after a journey of several years, bring them to the center of ocean basins, where they accumulate in 1,000km-wide circulating systems known as gyres. The vast garbage sea patches resemble an island of trash.

Food Packaging
“Mother’s Cantina is located steps from the Atlantic Ocean and the number one piece of trash we see on the beach is Styrofoam containers,” Ocean City, Maryland Tex-Mex Restaurant's Ryan James told FoodPrint, last year after before Maryland became the first state to enact a ban that prohibits restaurants, cafes, food trucks and supermarkets from packaging foods in foam containers. Styrofoam food containers and disposable coffee cups are big culprits in that are why several cities from New York and Seattle to Freeport, Maine, and Encinitas, California, have passed similar legislation; other bans on single-use plastics, including straws, have gone into effect.

Aluminum Cans
This brings us back to that aluminum beer can in the river. According to Ecowatch, almost 100 billion are used in the U.S. annually, and only about half of these cans are recycled. The rest go to landfills or into the environment and much of that is washed into our waterways. While Aluminum also come with their own eco-price: the production of each can pumps about twice as much carbon into the atmosphere as each plastic bottle.

Paddling back to the access with our garbage bags full of many items above included all of the above. We were amazed as well as disheartened by the amount of trash we found in and around our little river sanctuary. Cleanups like ours, are critical to ensuring that lakes and rivers remain beautiful places for us all to enjoy, yet they are only part of the solution. Ultimately if we want to protect our lakes, rivers, and waterways we need to create an awareness to others to reduce the amount of trash being littered into our environment by encouraging everyone to pack out their trash and dispose of it properly.

Act Now! Make the River Cleanup Pledge

Outside Adventure to the Max and American Rivers is asking for you to take action and clean up and protect the rivers in our own backyards. We need your pledge. The premise is simple. Every year, National River Cleanup® volunteers pull tons of trash out of our rivers. By picking up trash you see around you every day, you can prevent it from getting into the rivers in the first place.

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Friday, April 30, 2021



During a recent safety meeting at The River Store, a paddle shop within earshot of one of Northern California's popular whitewater venues the South Fork of the American River, boaters sat circled in lawn chairs on the store's front deck.

Current Adventures Kayaking School & Trips' Dan Crandall leans in holding a rescue throw bag and tells them this about a group of paddlers at the access before getting on the river.
In his story, the more experienced paddler asks everyone if they have a throw bag?

Courtesy of the River Store
 The rookie to group shrugs it off saying he doesn't have one, but tells them, he'll be OK without it.
The veteran paddler quickly offers him his saying, "You'll need to be ready in case I need rescuing, but however," the veteran paddler warned, "If it's the other way around you just might be out of luck."
The story got a laugh, but Crandall's point should be well taken. You should be prepared for any situation when whitewater kayaking. The life you save just might be your own. 

El Dorado County SAR Swift Water training officer Tim Cannavaro says it's appropriate to bring basic safety gear on every outing down the river. All your equipment should be in excellent condition to avoid untimely failure and additional items may certainly be relevant or necessary depending on the individual's responsibilities and abilities.

"Accidents happen," said Cannavaro, "Even on easier local runs. Maybe not to your group, but someone else may be unprepared."

Current Adventures and The River Store recommends this safety gear checklist before getting on the river.

  • Proper river running kayak with "high" volume and enough length to provide for ascending moves and quick response/hull speed in fast or high water situations. Good "grab handles for swimmers to access. Good Inner floatation. (Float bags or similar.)
  • Personal equipment:
  • "Rescue" style PFD with quick release tow tether, good flotation. (Less than 3-years-old or newer depending on previous use and UV exposure.)
  • Dress to be "Wet" in case of a sustained "In-Water" rescue attempt.
  • Float bags.
  • Breakdown paddle in the boat.
  • High pitch waterproof whistle. (Such as Fox 40 Classic Safety Whistle.)
  • Rescue throw bag & rope. (70' Spectra recommended.)
  • Waist belt. (tubular webbing)
  • Four carabiners. (At least one locking)
  • "Rescue" knife with secure but easy access sheath of pocket storage.
  • Good footwear for shoreline activity, to be worn at all times both in and out of the boat. (Open-toed sandals are NOT a good option in most cases.)
  • Two or more prusik loops.
  • Cell phone in a waterproof case.
  • Small waterproof flashlight w/ Lithium battery and spare battery.
  • Egress Map with personal/local phone numbers. (Family, friends, CHP, Heli, 911, Shuttle Service, and area outfitters. Even without cell service, a text may go through.)
  • Well-stocked First Aid kit.
  • Including, face shield or similar CPR aid, bandages, sling, rescue "blanket" SAM splint, aspirin, glucose, cloth tape, shears, first aid "book" or cards. pencil and waterproof paper, Tincture of Benzoin, gauze pads, waterproof tape.

While all boaters should have proper skills and paddling abilities for the water they are paddling in, Cannavaro reminds us, that you should also bring along a healthy respect for any river that you're going to kayak to despite any familiarity with it.

"Especially on sections often paddled or local." said Cannavaro, "Comfort leads to complacency."

By being well prepared with these tools and knowledge to help in any rescue situation you encounter, Cannavaro says, it will make you a well-rounded member of your paddling team.

If you want more information about their recommended gear list contact The River Store at

This article was originally published Outside Adventure to the Max on May 6, 2020.


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Friday, April 23, 2021


Earth Day was this past week marking the 51st anniversary of celebrating our planet. Last year's event was observed in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. Under normal circumstances, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day would have been marked with worldwide celebrations, festivals, and massive clean-up efforts. All while promoting a cleaner, healthier environment worldwide.
Instead, we were all celebrating indoors while practicing social distancing. Under the guidelines of stay-in-place restrictions, environmental groups canceled all their outdoor activities and events and chose to rally online.

Little did we know then, but it what was in store for the rest of the year. Annual summer holidays like Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day, we were told to stay in place and avoid large crowds. Health experts said the risks of exposure were reduced while being outside. Soon, the great outdoors began attracting people in unprecedented numbers. Dispersed camping was all the rage as folks attempt to hunker down in the quest to flee COVID-19.
By the fall of 2020, it has seemed like the pandemic might never end. The death tolls continued to mount as holidays were put on hold. But now, as we celebrate another Earth Day, it a bit brighter than the last one. Vaccines have been developed faster than most experts had imagined, and more than millions of Americans have been vaccinated. Sure, health officials are still advising caution. But, they are saying by this summer, we might be able to safely gather in small groups again.
In the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly brought devastation across the earth. But it also showed us how billions of its citizens could come together to protect members of society and ensure that those who need medical care can access it.
It showed how quickly, through international cooperation and science research, a vaccine could be developed and delivered to its citizens.

"Like Covid-19, climate change is affecting us all. It is already devastating communities, impacting public health, and taking a toll on economies," wrote a research professor Robin Bell, at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in an opinion piece for Undark, "And it is exacerbating disparities, with poor and vulnerable populations being affected the most. But the same tools that we have sharpened during the pandemic — a willingness to engage with scientific literature, the will to take action, a sense of global connection — can be used to help address the health of our planet."
Lake Jenkinson at Sly Park

For years scientists have warned us about the effects of climate change. In California, water officials brace for more drought-like conditions as the state ends its third driest winter season ever. Typically the wettest months of the year are December, January, and February, but this year rain and snowfall at higher elevations in Sierra fell below average month after month. That means less water during the summer months for the state’s parched reservoirs and rivers.

“California is facing the familiar reality of drought conditions, and we know the importance of acting early to anticipate and mitigate the most severe impacts where possible,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at a news conference at Lake Mendocino this week.
He said, “Climate change is intensifying both the frequency and the severity of dry periods. This ‘new normal’ gives urgency to building drought resilience in regions across the state and preparing for what may be a prolonged drought at our doorstep.”

But as we all know, it not just in California. Hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, and floods continue to increase in frequency and severity around the world affecting millions of people.
If we have learned anything from the Covid-19 pandemic, is that we have to trust our science and take action globally. We must apply the same lessons used in solving our worldwide pandemic to address our climate crisis. It will only be through global cooperation that we will save our planet. Happy Earth Week. 


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Friday, April 16, 2021



Joys come from simple and natural things: mists over meadows, sunlight on leaves, the path of the moon over water. -- Sigurd F. Olson

The two best reasons to ever buy a kayak rather than just renting one are for the stunning sunsets and splendid sunrises. Those first and last hours of sunlight, that photographers refer to as the "Golden Hour" creates a magnificent mood across the water as the sun slips behind the horizon or climbs steadily into the sky while gliding silently across the lake soaking in twilight’s peaceful enchantment.

On the other hand, there is magic in the night. After the sun sets in a fading crimson glow, while the rising full moon is casting an ethereal light upon the water and giving us just another reason to stay out on the water. There is a peaceful sense of stillness. The boat traffic along with the wind has died down while the birds and animals settle in till morning, leaving the nighttime paddler lost in space between the stars in the heavens and the serene of the water.

"It's one of my favorite activities," wrote Canadian paddler Harvey Chris Wittenberg, "Nothing better than glassy conditions during a full moon, when natural illumination is greatest. The only sounds you hear are the surf or your paddle breaking the water. A very serene "zen-like" moment."

Night paddling is not the time to explore new places. As the light fades as the world transforms into a silver a black panorama and keeping track of your bearings in the dark can be hard to correct. Distances are harder to determine and landmarks can be difficult to see. Wittenberg recommends, to scout out your route ahead of time and leave glow stick on a rock or tree at your launch point to help you find your way back in the pitch black.

"I've had a few times where it was not easy to find my launch point," writes Wittenberg, "Make sure if it is a new area to check it out during daylight first and leave a float plan along with an expected time you'll come back with a loved one,"

While calm inland lakes and protected sea bays usually work the best for a moonlight paddling trip. If choosing a river, it should be free of snags and rapids with a take-out point easy to spot in low light conditions unless you plan to paddle back against the current to your original access point.

For coastal tours, be aware of any changes in the weather that might make any part paddle more hazardous in wind, waves, and tide. Also, stay out of commercial shipping lanes. If available, try using GPS mapping to help you identify your location at night.

Consult the U.S Coast Guard's Navigation Rules and have on hand sounding devices, like a whistle or air horn, and some sort of telecommunication device, like a VHF radio or cell phone in a waterproof case and an emergency beacon to alert others who might be far away. Insect repellent and a jacket for cool weather are always a good idea and always wear your PFD.

The most important part kayaking at night, it's essential that you remain visible not only other boat traffic but also members of your own kayaking party. To help the group stay close together, place a battery or an inflatable solar light such as the Luci Light on your bow and stern. Keep in mind that artificial lighting actually hinders our night vision. Keep only the red light to preserve night vision.

Also, you can wear a bright LED headlamp and carry a reserve flashlight. If another watercraft approaches, you can turn your headlamp in that direction to alert other boats to your presence, but keep it off when kayaking or use the red light option to ensure the best view of the illuminating moon.

"It's good to carry a small light on the back of your PFD along with a headlamp," wrote Wittenberg, "I have fluorescent stickers on front and back of my kayak as well as on paddle because the paddle is the highest thing people will see. The best fluorescent stickers are the red and white ones you can get at a Marine store that work in sunlight and darkness, to put on either side of your kayak. Purchase a cheap green glow stick (for the front of the kayak) and a red one for the back."

Studying the mystery of the moon and stillness of the water while gliding silently along in night's enchantment is something every paddler should experience. In the dark, hearing nature’s symphony of frogs and crickets singing from the unseen shore while the moonbeams shimmer across the pond can be a truly magical adventure.

What to go...Check with your outfitter or local state park to see if they offer any moonlit paddle nights. Across the country, many of them provide guided sunset and full moon paddling sessions and with all the gear for a reasonable price. Northern California's Current Adventures has been taking paddlers of all skill levels on their popular moonlit kayaking excursion on Lake Natoma and Lake Jenkinson at Sly Park Recreation Area near Sacramento.

This article was originally published Outside Adventure to the Max on February 23, 2018.


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Friday, April 9, 2021


Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, paddlers flooded rivers and lakes around the country all in an attempt to get away from it all last year.

“It’s because of (COVID-19)," American Whitewater's Accident Database manager Charlie Walbridge told the Tennessean newspaper, "People are going stir crazy. They want to do something where they won’t expose themselves.”

But in Walbridge's new semi-annual report, 2020 also was an unprecedented year for deaths that occurred while paddling rivers. There were 48 deaths last year, which is well above average. The report tracks paddler deaths on the nation's whitewater rivers said that Tennessee saw the most deaths on its rivers with eight fatalities. Arkansas had seven deaths, and Washington reported six. Fatalities among skilled paddlers declined, although those involving inexperienced boaters increased. COVID-19 might be one reason why as kayak and canoe dealers quickly sold out and people rushed to get on the water for the first time.

"This has been offset by a big increase in those involving inexperienced people. Half the accidents (14) involved recreational kayaks, most of them in fast water or mild rapids," Walbridge wrote in his report, "My guess is that while many of us were staying home, others who own flatwater kayaks and cheap rafts were getting into trouble on local creeks. There were a large number of rescues reported, most involving rescue squads attending to stranded paddlers. Since experienced paddlers manage these situations themselves, this also points to an influx of newbies on fast-moving water."

As the interest in paddle sports continues to increase, so have the water-related fatalities. TheUnited States Coast Guard data shows that across the United States in 2005, canoe and kayaks made up 10% of all water deaths. That's been on the rise steadily since, and in 2019, 20% of deaths occurred on kayaks and canoes. Paddle safety leaders cite the same reasons they have been preaching for years. Inexperience, hypothermia, and mostly not wearing a PFD as the main causes of boating deaths. In American Whitewater's report, of the people who died, most were not wearing a life jacket.

“The basic message is the newbies need to wear a life jacket," Walbridge told the Tennessean, "Stay away from extreme water conditions and not use alcohol or drugs when they’re on the water, and that will prevent somewhere between 80% and 90% of the accidents."

Walbridge encourages beginners to take training classes, learn safety skills, and mostly know their limits before heading out onto the river.

The study serves as a reminder as we begin another season of paddling. Stop and thoughtfully consider your skills when you’re faced with something new and don't just fling into paddling.

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