What lies beneath
Strap in tight because the popularity of kayaking is rising almost as fast as the water in the Weber River. Running at 2,400 cubic feet per second, the Weber is raging. Faster and higher water flow, which lessens the possibility of bumping shallow parts of the river, are benefits. However, there are many hidden dangers beneath the surface.
"Strainers," a term that characterizes underwater obstacles such as rocks, bushes and trees, serve as major challenges for kayakers in the Park City area. When you’re moving at a fast pace with the flow of the river, it is a challenge to anticipate each of the obstacles that lurk beneath the surface.
Long-time local kayaker Tyler Goucher, who started at the age of 12, says that he always enjoyed dropping in at various locations such as the Ogden, Provo and Weber rivers.
"Kayaking is good exercise and a fun sport," he said. Goucher enjoys kayaking in the early summer because, "when all of the trails are wet and muddy, I can run a river and catch the waves."
However, this year the water has been exceptional. "High waters are a little scary," he said, because "water goes through them (bushes, rocks, etc.), but the body and the kayak don’t."
Goucher remembers one traumatic experience kayaking in high waters with his wife and a good friend in Ogden. Goucher’s wife caught a "strainer" and flipped the kayak. She became pinned against a log jam because the kayak’s skirt was tangled within the branches. "Her body was pinned by the water pressure," he said. Luckily, his friend was close by and able to immediately jump out of the kayak and reach his wife to keep her head above water until they could pull her free. "She was stuck on the tree for several minutes and could have died," Goucher added.
Regardless of the dangers, Goucher advocates taking up the sport if one is willing to make the investment. The basic equipment consists of a life jacket, helmet, paddle, kayak, and a skirt (that goes around the cockpit of the kayak to keep water out.) The total investment is roughly $2,000 for all of the essential equipment. However, one can also rent equipment from various businesses around Park City such as Destination Sports and Sports Authority.
Kayaking is an ideal activity during the muddy months of May and June. And on local rivers, high water levels can promise a fast-paced ride. But don’t forget to watch out for those "strainers."
Summit County and Park City’s elected leaders celebrated Earth Day by attending the signing of the Community Renewable Energy Act.