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Stacy McBain on the North Fork of the Payette River

Finishing The Road Trip

I realize I haven’t posted in a bit and that is not entirely because I am lazy, it is mainly because I was actually on the road heading back to the southeast and couldn’t make a post.

So, where I left off…Washington boating, amazing. Get out there if you can. Even better than Washington boating, are the people. Now that I am home, my favorite day of the entire trip was my first full day in the Hood River area where I went mountain biking and kayaked with great new friends.

We then headed back to the Boise area. I slowed my kayaking way down because I tweaked my shoulder one of my last days in the Hood area. It is an old injury from hurting myself on the Green Narrows. It happens. We are athletes right? What I didn’t realize at the time was how much I actually pissed off my shoulder. Long story short, I went to Kelly’s whitewater park (which I did a write up for Jackson Kayak, link to follow when it is posted), jumped on the south fork of the Payette and quickly realized my shoulder was pretty screwed.

jackson kids kayak
Instructor giving a little help to a kid just learning to kayak.

Tempted by friends to jump on the North Fork of the Payette, I turned down the offers to give the shoulder a rest. I rested until my last day in Boise. Might sound great to a non-athlete but to me, on a paddling it trip, it killed me. So of course, my last day in the area, I gathered a great crew and headed to North Fork of the Payette for a lower 5 run.

I knew right off the bat, I had nothing in my right strokes. I completed melted the first boof, carried down the center of some of the biggest waves of my life, took my eyes off the line for a split second to look for an eddie and bam, upside down thinking “I’m upside down on the north fork.” Rolled up, found an eddie and thought, “Oh shit.”

The roll is what went to far for that shoulder. Not immediately, but soon enough, I told my crew I had to pull off the river. While I am learning how to walk rapids and be okay with it, I believe this is only my second time walking off a river, the first coming in my first year of kayaking. This decision absolutely crushed my soul because I knew I didn’t have another opportunity in the near future to get back on this incredible run. Luckily for me, another girl was just getting back into her north fork rhythm and she already had her car at the end of Otter’s Run. While I still ran most of the lower 5, I still had to walk off for the 2 biggest rapids.

But, I met the crew at the takeout, had a great last hooray, met more fantastic new friends and finished the evening with a great meal in downtown Boise.

Moral of the story for me was that I tried to listen to my body, rested, attempted and matured on the river in order to pull off and not endanger myself or my crew. You can still smile at the end of it, and that I did.

North Fork Photos taken by Lisa Byers


I started kayaking in Wisconsin of all places, because this is where I am from. I then moved to San Diego and took on kayak surfing along with heading to the Kern River when water was available. I then made the move to Asheville, NC and have been hooked on this sport since my Wisconsin days. With whatever it is that you do, do it because you love it, not because society tells you should or for other outside factors. Don't simply exist, live!