Ducky Madness – An Adventure Down Pine Creek
by Monica Nigon in Rafting Magazine
A ducky is perhaps the most absurd of whitewater crafts. Elitists might call it an inflatable kayak, but I find it more akin to a high-buoyancy bathtub. It combines the best qualities of a raft and the best qualities of a kayak to make something incredibly mediocre. In a raft, the most uncomfortable part is wedging your feet under the rubber thwarts and letting them marinate in cold water all day. In a ducky, it’s your whole body wedged into a couple of miniature thwarts that serve as the hull. In a kayak, you ideally never have to swim or get wet below the waist. In a ducky, you’re prone to fall out of the thing entirely, and even if you don’t, you’re likely soaked head to toe anyway and constantly submerged up to the waist even in flatwater.
I think what drew me to a ducky wasn’t that I saw it as a highly efficient way to get down a river, because it isn’t. I didn’t pursue the sport because I was seeking adulation, because no one was going to be very impressed. I started hopping into a ducky more than any other craft because I found it to be somewhat of a joke. If I was in a ducky, everyone could rest assured I was never taking myself seriously. I didn’t have the swagger for kayaking, a swim being highly frowned upon. In a ducky, falling out with your legs flailing was absolutely expected. Thus, in lieu of paddling directly into strainers or underneath a raft, there’s no such thing as a mistake in an inflatable kayak.
My roommate and I – he is a photographer, I am a river guide – had become avid duckiers on the Arkansas River which we lived near, paddling the Class III section through Brown’s Canyon National Monument frequently. Both of us had separately paddled the Class IV Numbers section, but at extremely low water where scraping your rearside on rocks was as much of a hazard as the whitewater. While nothing to scoff at, these experiences gave us no right to even flirt with the idea of taking a ducky down Pine Creek, one of the only Class V sections that is commercially run in Colorado.
Yet there we found ourselves, entirely clad in neoprene, hand-pumping a double ducky on the side of the road near the put-in for Pine Creek in the San Isabel National Forest. Continue Reading: Ducky Madness – An Adventure Down Pine Creek
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DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, viewpoints or official policies of the IRF.