Scouting Is a never-ending and extremely important aspect of keeping waterways safe and clean. For RIVER RANGERS™, scouting may very well be the most important activity we do. So few paddlers have the opportunity to scout the water waves prior to their adventure. However, scouting is absolutely critical to a safe experience on the water.
The Process of Scouting
Scouting waterways is fun. The process involves hiking or paddling a specific area prior to floating with a group. Although group sizes vary, you should never float alone. Scouting waterways involves identifying potential and existing hazards and making plans to float in a different location, or to determine how best to navigate the hazards. Often times this can be accomplished simply by portaging for a brief period to get past the hazard.
In order to identify hazards, it is imperative to know what to look for. Trees that span across the entire waterway are easy to identify. However, strainers, sweepers and snags can all be more difficult to identify to the novice paddler.
To brush up on some vocabulary, strainers are much like what you would find in a typical kitchen. Think about making spaghetti. When you dump the pot into the strainer, the water flows through but the spaghetti remains. On waterways, a strainer allows water to flow through the hazard, but will trap solid objects like kayaks and paddlers.
Sweepers are much like strainers, but they attack paddlers from above. Most frequently, sweepers are low-hanging branches from trees. Sweepers can be dangerous as they can knock paddlers off of their boat or cause them to tip over. In periods of high water, trees that previously posed no threat, can suddenly cause concern to the unsuspecting paddler.
Snags are another danger that can often be hard to identify. Snags are debris like rocks and trees that are hidden under the water but can bring a paddler to a sudden stop, or suddenly disrupt the pace and direction of paddle. What makes snags so scary is their ability to sneak up on you without warning.
Before you Float
Before you head out on your next adventure, make sure that someone has scouted the way. If you have identified potential and real hazards, make sure you have a plan to navigate through or around the hazard. RIVER RANGERS™ are constantly scouting and re-scouting waterways, but even with our ever-growing team, we cannot be everywhere at all times.
There are several other types of hazards to be aware of, and we will cover them in future posts and videos. If you have a hazard you have seen that you believe needs addressed, please click here to send us a report. Don’t try to remove hazards on your own, but do inform local authorities and the RIVER RANGERS™, so we can make the waterway safe and clean again. Be safe, and we will see you on the water.