Monday, October 30, 2006

Play Time at the Charlotte Whitewater Center

Play Time at the Charlotte Whitewater Center

By: Christina Russell
Date: October 27, 2006

As midterms came to a close for me at Albertson College of Idaho, I booked a flight to North Carolina to see Jacob Selander and do a little kayaking. North Carolina is a ways away but hey…sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do….GO KAYAKING!

We got up early on Sunday morning and made a break for the coffee maker, (cannot function without coffee)loaded the pickup, and rallied to the Charlotte whitewater park two hours from Chapel Hill. The park itself is fairly new. It boasts some of the best ditch boating in the states with three channels: A Beginner Channel, Intermediate/Slalom course, and a play channel. It is constructed with removable riverbed objects in order to change and create features. At the end of each play channel, you end up in a “lake” of sorts where you then paddle onto a conveyer belt! Yes! A conveyer belt that takes you right back to the top of the channels.

We arrived at the park at 11:30AM and walked around to see the empty channels. Jacob and I opted to buy the full day whitewater passes and completely wipe ourselves out. At 12:00, the water was turned on and we watched as the ditches filled up with roaring whitewater. We spent the majority of our five hours in the play channel riding at one hole in particular. I was borrowing Jacob’s Pocket Rocket and I quickly discovered (after too much flippage) that I needed more foam in the cockpit area...I have no hips! Jacob and I headed back up to the car for a quick outfitting session…and snacks.

Jacob pondering life over a Cliff Bar

“Alright let’s see it!” I shouted, as Jacob paddled toward the play hole. Jacob never ceased to amaze everyone between his 12 clean ends and his massive loops. He has been on the US Freestyle Team for several years as well as the US Squirt Team... He was fun to watch!

The picture perfect hole...

Though I couldn’t quite pull off the 12 cleans, I worked on other things…..
My goals for the day were to practice backloops, splitwheels, and front loops. The playhole we parked it at was SWEET…and best of all, it was large enough, and retentive enough that most people opted to play at the surf wave just downstream.
The basic equation: big hole+ no eddyline= LOTS of playtime…5 hours of it to be precise! Loops proved to be almost too easy in the Pocket Rocket. I got more frequent flyer miles than ever before and it cartwheeled effortlessly.

Christina Russell migrating back to the hole

C working on back loops….

The park was awesome! The sun came out, the rain stopped, and we got to play till we were ready to pass out. I’ve never had that much fun in a ditch…a legal ditch that is ;). (Oregon has some burly lava rock in its canals is all I’m going to say…but you never heard that from me!) A highlight was getting to ride the conveyer belt after each run! Is it wrong to be so excited about the conveyer? Being easily amused is wonderful. After many, many hours in the play channel we decided to call it a day and migrate back to Chapel Hill for some coffee and kayaking movies….Live to kayak and kayak to live….but don’t forget the coffee…it helps ya live!!!!

This is Christina Russell signing out….time to get coffee!!!

*for more information on the US Whitewater Center, visit

The author mellowing out at the house....and pondering the sweet-as rides at the park :)

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