Missouri, Arkansas rivers offer sports alternative

Chelsea Garrison goes over Grand Falls April 21. Garrison´s boat was caught under the falls.

Submitted photo

Chelsea Garrison goes over Grand Falls April 21. Garrison´s boat was caught under the falls.

T.J. Gerlach

Three Missouri Southern students have been making a splash in four-state rivers.

Robert Terry, senior music major, Chelsea Garrison, sophomore biology major, and Jeff Edwards, sophomore environmental health major, go kayaking at least once per week.

“It’s a great sport,” Garrison said.

Edwards started kayaking after his friends in Springfield attracted him to the sport.

“First time I was in a boat I was like ‘how much is it?'” Edwards said.

“Two months later I was buying my own stuff.”

Garrison decided to try kayaking after seeing it in a magazine, and she got Terry interested in it.

“She asked me to go last winter and it was cold,” Terry said.

The three went through a safety course when they started kayaking.

They have gone to rivers all over Missouri and Arkansas.

“There’s two different types of things you can do,” Edwards said.

“You can do river running, where you can go out and run the whole river, or they have park-and-play spots – somewhere that’s actually close to a road, and you can just drive up and there’ll be like a little feature to play on.”

He said park-and-play spots allow kayakers to devote all their energy to playing and doing tricks.

The three ran Grand Falls April 21, and Garrison lost her boat under the falls.

“I don’t regret going over the falls,” she said. “I just regret losing my boat. I guess I had already come to grips with the possibility of it happening.”

She recovered her boat a few days later.

Garrison said the experience is like a theme-park water ride without rails to hold you in.

“[There are] no rules, no restrictions to where to where you can go,” she said.

“No guarantees, either,” Terry said.

Edwards agreed.

“Imagine downhill-mountain biking – in water,” he said.

Garrison did have words of advice for beginners.

“Be aggressive,” Garrison said. “You’re working with the river, but if you just let the river do what it wants to you, it’s probably not going to be too much fun.”

Edwards advises newcomers to be ready to swim.

“You’re going to swim,” Edwards said. “[And] lean upstream, always lean upstream.

They said anyone interested in trying the sport can take an instructional course with a kayak club, such as the Missouri Whitewater Association.

They said a used boat runs about $450, and a new costs about $1,100.

More information on kayaking can be found on MWA’s Web site, available at www.missouriwhitewater.org.