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“You don’t just float, you work and play the river all the way down.”


- Jerry Frazier, experienced kayaker By Dana Attocknie W


aves of fun gush in with every rainfall for Oklahoma white- water kayakers. A good downpour provides the optimum terrain to zigzag down a local river or creek, and as the water levels continue to rise, so do the thrills.


“Whitewater kayaking is like being in a sports car because there’s a lot


of quick turns,” Jerry Frazier, an experienced kayaker, said. “You don’t just float, you work and play the river all the way down.” Frazier said, whitewater kayaking is all about reading the river, finding out what the rapids are doing, and catching “eddies”—places to pause on the river and make a hard turn. Although, he lives in the Oklahoma City area, Frazier has experienced bubbling rivers throughout the state, and said kayaking is not a seasonal sport. Both he and his wife have paddled flat water during the winter. His whitewater adventures began when he met Terry DeMoe, a level 4 whitewater kayak instructor and level 3 river rescue instructor. DeMoe, an Oklahoma Electric Cooperative member, knew when he was 20 years old that paddling was going to be part of his life. That’s when he took an overnight canoe trip down the Little River in southeast Oklahoma. “My thing is whitewater kayaking. My sort of claim to fame is longevity and teaching. I’ve taught a lot of people,” DeMoe said. “I also have discovered a lot of whitewater creeks in Oklahoma. When it rains, a small group of friends and I will go out and find these creeks and kayak them, and then come back later with other people.” In addition to whitewater kayaking, there are other forms of paddling such as flat water kaya- king, kayak fishing, sprint kayak racing, slalom kayak racing, sea kayaking and standup paddle boarding. Currently, a whitewater rafting and kayak center, RIVERSPORT Rapids, is being constructed on the Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District. The Boathouse District offers kayak and standup paddle board lessons. People can also meet up with other paddlers through OKC Kayak and DeMoe’s group called Oklahoma Red Dirt Paddlers, http://www.meetup.com/ Red-Dirt-Paddlers/. The American Canoe Association also provides valuable information at http://www.americancanoe.org/. Greg Rutledge from Ardmore is another one of DeMoe’s students. Rutledge enjoys the


challenge kayaking offers and said paddling in the moving water requires special training and equipment, but taking the right precautions can open up a world of possibilities and experiences. “With the proper training you can learn how to deal with the calculated risks, instead of jumping in with no experience. That’s asking for trouble,” Rutledge, a Red River Valley Rural Electric Association member said. “You can see things from a kayak you can’t see otherwise … not even by foot.” The first thing DeMoe, Frazier and Rutledge emphasized for anyone interested in the sport, no matter which discipline, is safety. Taking a safety course, wearing a lifejacket and helmet, and going with an experienced paddler on moving water are key. There are different types of boats avail- able for each discipline.


“Kayaking is a difficult sport. It’s not something most people can pick up on their own and eventually get good,” DeMoe said. “Most people have to go through years of training to get really good at it.” Frazier said the chances of turning over in whitewater are pretty good, whereas the most difficult part of being in a lake boat is getting in and out of it.


“If you’re actually wanting to get into the sport of whitewater kayaking, you need to realize it’s an adrenaline sport and water is unforgiving,” DeMoe said. “It can be a little scary. There’s no two ways about it. You’ve got to pay attention to water levels; when the water gets too high, things can get dangerous in a hurry.”


Beyond the adrenaline rush, DeMoe said white- water takes people places they never imagined. He said there’s so much variation and so much beauty out there to be experienced and a lot of people are just never going to get that experience. Rutledge said Oklahoma has some of the greatest and most beautiful places in the world. He enjoys paddling in Lake Murray, the Kiamichi River, Lake Elmer Thomas and Pennington Creek. Frazier has been to the Lower Mountain Fork at Beaver’s Bend State Park, Lake Arcadia, Lake Hefner, and Lake Thunderbird. They both enjoy flat water and white- water kayaking. Depending on where paddlers go, they may have


Jerry Frazier floats down the Lower Mountain Fork River near Broken Bow. Courtesy photo


to purchase a permit to kayak. Also, there are places to rent kayaks along the Illinois River in Tahlequah, the Lower Mountain Fork River, some state parks and at OKC Kayak. “It’s a wonderful physical activity for people of


all ages. It really, really is,” Frazier, 72, said. “You can do it while sitting down or as strenuously as you want.”


To find helpful information, check out the Oklahoma Red Dirt Paddlers: http://www.meetup.com/Red-Dirt-Paddlers/ JULY 2015 11


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