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NFC VI - Banks, ID

Everyone who knows me is well aware of my love hate relationship for water, and although I'm not a swimmer by any means, if the sun is shining and I'm not in the backcountry blazing the trails, you can normally catch me out on the water... that is, in my foldable Oru Kayak, on a nice calm lake.

When it comes to white water kayaking I have no business in the sport as a rider, but when your friends throw one of the rowdiest white water kayaking events in the world and ask if you want to help out and experience the stoke you can't say no.

Welcome to the North Fork Championship.

With kayakers traveling from around the world to compete, you truly begin to see just how tight-knit the community in this sport is. It's like watching a family reunion unfold where conversations pick up where they last dropped off, stories of epic waterfalls or rapids are shared, and enough beer and chill vibes are flowing to go around for eternity. These riders are the definition of passion when it comes to their love of the sport, and that only became more apparent when they started discussing the best locations to park their vans alongside the riverbed. First ones in, and last ones out each day. There's nothing else that matters.

With no fear or hesitations, the weekend progressed and I watched time and time again rider after rider send the rapids of the notorious North Fork of the Payette River. For those who haven't heard the name of this river before, it's 15 continuous miles of class V rapids... that is, when the river is flowing at a normal rate of under 2,500 cfs. With the brutal winter of snow and rain, the level of the river during race weekend was above 4,000 cfs, turning even the easiest of rapids into death defying whirlpools of pure white water. This added risk only fueled the riders more, and although many got humbled by the force of the river, those who were able to tame it and come out on top truly proved to the community such a feat was indeed possible. As the kayakers would say, the stoke was real.

Between the many races, festivities, and film awards there are too many tales to be told of this epic white water kayaking event. You simply have to see it with your own eyes and you'll know what I mean. In the mean time though I'd highly recommend checking the event out, I'll be back next year for sure, and most likely every year after that.

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