Extreme kayaking is a sport that combines whitewater rafting and kayaking, and is typically reserved for those with experience and confidence in raging waters.
Generally speaking, kayaking is something everyone can do. It does not require any previous knowledge or experience, and as long as you're in average shape, you can participate in this easy-going, tranquil experience out on the water. Another popular water activity is whitewater rafting. This on the other hand isn't so calm and relaxing, but more exciting and thrilling. You don't need any experience to try your luck at whitewater rafting, but you do need to be in good shape and be able to swim.
Extreme kayaking can be done in many ways, but most experienced kayakers prefer to slide down the face of a waterfall and land into the busy waters below. Therefore, the equipment used in this type of kayaking differs greatly from that in classic kayaking. Kayaks for this particular sport are built to withstand the rugged waters and speed. The most popular materials used to make these boats are fiberglass and Kevlar, making for a durable surface if scratched or damaged in any way. The boats for this sport range in size from big enough to hold one person to twelve feet or longer.
The "International Scale of River Difficulty" places the difficulty of rivers into classifications. This is how to decide where the best conditions are for this extremely exciting sport. Ordinary kayaking is done on rivers with a Class I grade, being the smoothest and tranquil waters. Extreme kayaking is done on Class III-IV grades, which are recommended for advanced kayakers only.
There are different types of extreme kayaking and not all of them involve plunging down a waterfall into a flowing stream of rugged water. If you're comfortable with your ability to handle rough water but not yet ready to take a 45 foot plunge, you can try out river running. This is a form of kayaking that promises bumps, twists, and turns down rocky waters, but doesn't involve kayaking off any cliffs or down great distances. An extension of this is called "creeking", where kayakers can experience a little more excitement by closely riding the ledges and creeks and dropping down shorter waterfalls.
Freestyle extreme kayaking doesn't involve making your way from one point to another, but rather staying in one spot as you work against the current and using various maneuvers to stay above water. This is sure to be a physical challenge and should only be attempted by expert extreme kayakers.
Asheville, North Carolina is a popular spot for this type of kayaking. Asheville offers three different classes of river difficulty, making it ideal for beginners and expert extreme kayakers. The most famous creek for whitewater rafting is Big Creek, and is used daily by extreme kayakers. You can also find rapid waters ideal for this type of kayaking in areas of Oregon and Colorado. A search of the internet will provide you a list of ideal locations nearby and all across the country.
For more articles of similar interest click these links:
The Beginner's Guide To Basic Kayaking
Kayaking in Alaska: Destinations That Offer Something To Everyone