Doesn’t That Look Exciting?!

Kayaking in Snowmelt

Often times people like me with a blog like mine will host guest writers, and sometimes I am asked to write as a guest writer on someone else’s blog or website.  A while back I was contacted by a guy named Joel Cowen from Austin Kayak, asking if I would be willing to host a guest article from him.  I checked out their website by clicking here, and I was very impressed with what they have to offer.  So I told Joel that I would be happy to have him write an article for my website, and after my weeks of delay due to my back surgeries, I am finally getting around to posting this.

I got my first kayak last summer, it is a fishing kayak, not really meant for white water. But after looking at the Austin Kayak website, that really got me thinking about how exciting this sport is, and that I can see myself doing this in the future.  Joel asked for a potential topic, and I suggested kayaking during the spring run-off, as we are going to have a lot this year in Colorado.  You can also see their blog by clicking here.  Below is the guest post from Joel at Austin Kayaks.

Five Hazards to Watch for When Kayaking in Snowmelt

Kayaking in a region during rain and snowmelt is definitely not for beginners. Although these may be euphoric conditions to the seasoned kayaker, the rivers and attributing waters are more violent and powerful than ever during these conditions. This will put your courage, skills and safety to the test. There are five main dangers to consider when participating in any water activity during rain and snowmelt environments, and they include the following: drowning, hypothermia, overexertion, crashing into rocks, and getting stuck.

 1. Drowning

The risk of drowning is a given when you are participating in any type of water sport. But rain and snow melt can increase water flow and raise water levels very quickly, thus creating faster and more dangerous waters. This makes having the proper safety gear with you imperative. You should have a wetsuit, a dry suit, a survival kit, and life jacket with you at all times.

2. Hypothermia

kayaking in white water

Kayaking in White Water

The next thing to consider is hypothermia, which is actually the number one cause of death for outdoor activities and sports. Hypothermia can occur when you are kayaking and your boat capsizes, exposing your body to severely low water temperatures. If this happens, it is important to get out the water as soon as possible. If you are alone, you should assume the fetal position. If you are with other kayakers, then it is best to group very closely together in order to generate more body heat.

Another way in which kayakers can get hypothermia is by not wearing enough and/or proper clothing for the weather conditions. So it is important to bring extra dry clothes with you that are stored in a dry bag. Dry clothes are one of many equipment necessities you should bring along with you on your snowy kayaking adventure.

3. Overexertion

You may not think of the next hazard when you think of kayaking safety, but overexertion can present a danger to paddlers. This problem can rear its head if you are out of shape or you use too much energy while paddling and can result in various physical injuries. Be sure that you are physically fit enough to attempt the physically vigorous activity that is snowmelt kayaking.

4. Crashing Into Rocks

While the next hazard does not usually result in death, crashing into rocks or them crashing into you resulting in bruising, scrapes, and cuts. What makes hitting a rock more dangerous during winter is that an unexpected hit can tip-over a kayak and result in a capsize. Another reason to familiarize yourself with rolling!

5. Getting Stuck

One of the scariest safety hazards to watch out for it getting stuck. With the fast paced waters and violent crashing waves, you can easily get stuck in various river features. It’s possible for you to get pinned to rocks, stuck in holes and caught in fallen branches and trees (referred to as strainers). This is one of kayakers biggest fears because you can be in the best of shape and still get stuck. If you’re planning on paddling whitewater refer make sure you are familiar with what to do in a situation where you find yourself pinned.


Kayaking on a Fast River

Other necessary items you should carry with you on your kayaking adventure include rainwear, long underwear, pile clothing, a sleeping bag, tent or shelter, a first-aid kit, a repair kit (duct tape is the best and the cheapest), an emergency locating device and fire making materials that are stored in watertight containers.

This is just a brief of highlighted things you will need to consider if you want to kayak during snowmelt conditions. It’s always best to be overly prepared, so you can kayak comfortably in any situation. You’ll be able to find all the gear you need for kayaking in snowmelt at ACK, thanks for reading!

About the Author:

Joseph is an avid kayaker based out of the central Texas area. He has spent many a weekend and holiday on the Texas coast attending sea kayaking events or just having some fun with a kayak or paddleboard. He’s currently employed at Austin Canoe and Kayak ( and loves that he gets to spend time working with his favorite toys.