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Paddle Safety Day mixes fun, instruction

Lake Clementine provided setting for Protect American River Canyons-sponsored event
By: Bruce Warren, Journal Staff Writer
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A free Paddle Safety Day gave youngsters and adults the chance to try out kayaking Sunday on the placid waters of Upper Lake Clementine, off Foresthill Road. Members of Protect American River Canyons, with conservation chief Eric Peach, secretary Roger Groghan and others, helped novices and the more experienced try out a variety of kayaks, ranging from whitewater vessels to those geared for lakes. For Gayle Hughes of Auburn, it was her first time out in a kayak. A little nervous at first, she soon warmed up to the experience. After getting out on the water, she became hooked. “I love it,” Hughes said. “This is great. I want to buy one.” Hughes and friend Linda Schlegel, both members of Canyon Keepers, attended Sunday’s instruction with a mission in mind. Hughes and Schlegel, a more experienced kayaker, came to learn more about kayak safety in order to better serve those who launch their kayaks in the confluence area of the American River Canyon. From May through September, members of Canyon Keepers are on hand to advise those launching kayaks or rafts of possible dangers on the river. They also suggest that children wear the available lifejackets on the racks in the confluence area. “Where the Middle Fork and North Fork come together, there’s some turbulence,” Schlegel said. “I like to ask them if they’ve ever been on that stretch of the river.” She then advises the adults about the availability of lifejackets for their children. At Sunday’s event on Upper Lake Clementine, novices were able to try out a variety of inflatable kayaks and receive instruction from Guy Cables of Sierra Whitewater, which also provided most of the kayaks available. Groghan of PARC also gave instruction Sunday. Cables, who has more than 30 years of experience of American River guiding, gave paddle instruction, assisted with fitting lifejackets and advised on kayak selection. “The inflatable kayaks are real stable, so it’s good to put beginners in them,” Cables said. “First get a stable boat so you don’t capsize. I carry only heavy-duty inflatable kayaks.” Sierra Whitewater of Auburn offers “rentals and instruction on all types of kayaks and rafts,” Cables said. On Sunday, visitors received free instruction on simple paddling techniques. “There’s high-angle paddling and low-angle paddling,” Cables said. “High-angle paddling will propel you forward and low-angle paddling will help turn the boat.” For Max Rule, 9, a fourth-grader at Skyridge Elementary School, it was great getting out on the water with his grandmother, Jane Hamilton. “It was great but tiring,” Max said. “No matter where you are on the water, you can connect with nature and get some exercise.” Max had just the kind of experience that Peach of PARC hoped participants would have. “This is just flat water so it’s good for beginners,” Peach said. “We make sure they’re outfitted with the proper size lifejackets and encourage paddle safety. We want people to choose a stretch of river that’s appropriate to their skill level. It’s a community service we like to do.” The Journal’s Bruce Warren can be reached at brucew@goldcountrymedia.com, or comment online at Auburnjournal.com.