One of my favorite whitewater festivals in the Pacific Northwest is held each year on the Clackamas River near Estacada, OR.  This event, rain or shine, brings rafters, kayakers, river boarders, drift boaters, spectators and more to one of the most beautiful areas in the Mt Hood National Forest.

Throughout the weekend, you can choose to participate in the festivities as a spectator or competitor.  Either way . . . you are guaranteed some excitement.  Most of the races are located at Carter’s rapid on the Clackamas.  Whether navigating through strategically placed slalom gates, or racing head-to-head through the waves and holes this rapid presents . . . your heart beats rapidly and your fingers are crossed that you aren’t the “show-cased swimmer”.

Due to an injury, I participated as photographer and spectator this year.  Each racing event had some great entertainment.  The slalom cat boat race, dominated by Zach Collier, was intriguing to watch as they navigated a giant boat through each gate with precision.  The IK races were my favorite, as legs, arms and paddles were flying everywhere as one by one the boats entered the largest feature and spun, flipped and twirled their way through.  The hard shell kayak race was also pretty entertaining as you watched 15 kayaks simultaneously plunge through the biggest hydraulic and wondered who would flip over, who would make it and who would be knocked over by incoming traffic.  No one likes to swim, but it definitely makes for a better race . . . so, thanks to all the swimmers in the clack fest . . . you made the races so much more fun to watch.

IK raceKayak Race - L6 rep, Luke Spencer in 1st!

Besides all the action on the river, you can find vendors, clinics and food throughout the weekend to take advantage of.  Level Six, was represented beautifully by my friend and L6 rep, Luke Spencer.  The Reign drytop and pants were a hit as they were showcased in the boothe.

Myself, along with Susan Hollingsworth, led a Wet Planet Whitewater & River Angels sponsored clinic on “Kayaking:  Strokes and Concepts” on Sunday, which was very well received.  Sharing my knowledge about kayaking and seeing the excitement on people’s faces when they learn something “new” reinforces why I love doing what I do.

A big thanks to the Clackamas River Festival for inviting me to join, for another great festival and for uniting the river community once again!  Can’t wait until next year . . .

Heather Herbeck

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