Intro to Whitewater

Whitewater Kayaking Made Easy (classroom)

I was excited to take the pool class, even though a few friends ridiculed taking a kayak class ("What's so hard about kayaking?!").  The whitewater clinic presented challenges I was not expecting (physically, mentally or emotionally), and it heightened my awareness of the river, the sport, challenges and myself.  It has taken me a week to process this experience, and I welcome the time it will take to continue to process both the instruction and personal learned experience. This course was positively intense!

Deanna Lundy

My learning curve has been exponential. I never imagined I would learn this much, so fast!

Chuck Washington  -  Resident MD, UNMH

Intro to Whitewater, Weekend Adventure

Fantastic! The instruction was top notch. The instructors' attention to detail and focus on safety were superb. The classroom environment was interesting, the class time on the water was a blast, and the attendees had a great time together during and after class around the camp fire. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in kayaking in New Mexico.
Justin Tade  -  Attorney, avid skier, surfer, pilot, adventure junkie
Special thanks to New Mexico Kayak Instruction and Kelly Gossett for a great weekend up in Pilar last month for the beginner lesson on the white water. My family had a fantastic time. Pictured is my 12 year old son who is profound deaf paddling the river. Kelly truly is a master kayak instructor that can teach at all levels of ability and provide hours of fun for the whole family.
Matt Painter  -  Retired Fireman

Intro to Whitewater, Weekend Adventure

Kelly is a terrific instructor!  He's extremely patient, manages to maintain a sense of humor, is very safety-conscious (a good thing on the river!), and has some unique tricks to help his students, be it learning to roll or learning to read a river.  He explains things clearly and simply.  He also seems to have the ability to get inside the heads of his students to help them get to where they need to be.
Deborah DeMack  -  Attorney
I have to say, Kelly covered EVERYTHING!  I've taken this weekend class twice to absorb everything that goes into whitewater kayaking.  Since my class, I've paddled on class III whitewater and felt like I had a great sense of what [maneuvers, compound strokes or techniques] to do, when to do it, how to do it, and why to do it!   What Kelly teaches would be pretty much impossible for a self-taught paddler to figure out alone.  I feel safer, and more confident each time I'm on the river with a foundation of strokes and concepts to practice outside of class, and most importantly, I feel in control on the water.
Bob Pennington  -  home-builder

Intro to Whitewater, Weekend Adventure

I was a self-taught kayaker who constantly got caught in situations that were either dangerous or beyond my skill.  In fact, I almost gave up the sport multiple times before I met Kelly.  After taking his courses, I found that I was in much better control on the river and began to enjoy it more.  I never realized how much technique went into boat control and reading the river.  Kayaking changed for me from a sport that constantly terrified me, to a sport where I felt exhilarated and challenged, but still in control.  Kelly’s classes focus on reading the river, developing paddling skills, safety, and responsible fun.  The best part of taking his courses is meeting new people to paddle with.  I am now surrounded by like-mined paddlers whom I can trust on the river, for I know they received the same training.  Kelly’s classes turned me into a life-long kayaker.
Glenn Wellman  -  High School History teacher, APS
Kelly is a great tactician with a keen ability to break the rivers' energy into a series of teaching moments that were both appropriate for our varying skill levels and allowed each of us to build confidence at every stage throughout the weekend.  My goal is to be able to manipulate the river, and all of its energy, with the grace and finesse that Kelly has!
Chip Berglund  -  semi-retired

Intro to Whitewater, Weekend Adventure

I love this meetup group.  Kelly has done a great job of building a foundation or respect, camaraderie, and skills so that everyone has fun.  Thanks Kelly for all you do!

Liza Kerr

I like the emphasis on kayaking as a positive experience.  After taking the classes, you realize that you can have a very fun time, even before mastering the roll.  Other classes I've taken make the roll seem like a necessity, and learning to roll (or not), becomes the focus, which eclipses the fun of kayaking.

Betsy Glenn

Intro to Whitewater, Weekend Adventure

I wanted to say thank you for the entire Pilar trip. It was a small class and you could have rescheduled but you didn't. I really learned a lot! Because of that weekend, I'm excited about the sport. I've been talking to my wife and friends about it nonstop! I'm trying to get others to sign up for your class. You do a really good job! Thanks again!

Dan McCarraher  -  Real estate agent
Special thanks to New Mexico Kayak Instruction and Kelly Gossett for a great weekend up in Pilar last month for the beginner lesson on the white water. My family had a fantastic time. Pictured is my 12 year old son who is profound deaf paddling the river. Kelly truly is a master kayak instructor that can teach at all levels of ability and provide hours of fun for the whole family.
Matt Painter  -  Retired Fireman

Can you recommend any places to stay, besides the campground?

There are a few Bed & Breakfast inns in the area.  The one I recommend is Casa Escondida.

Casa Escondida is an authentic adobe, 8-room bed & breakfast that is located in historic Chimayo (only 35 - 40 minutes from Pilar). They offer a rural, secluded setting with great mountain views. A full, hot breakfast is included. Enjoy their relaxing outdoor hot tub after a long day of paddling. Rooms range from $99 - $159 / night. FREE Wi-Fi. Pet-friendly. Book online or by phone: www.casaescondida.com / 505-351-4805

What about meals?

Plan on bringing breakfast, lunch and dinner, as there are few eating places in close proximity to the river and campgrounds. 

The Pilar Yacht Club is the exception. The Yacht Club makes a mean breakfast burrito, and has other basic conveniences; coffee, sodas, ice, sun screen and ice cream. The Yacht Club closes by mid-afternoon.

We'll pause for about 30 minutes during our lesson for lunch, but will not have time to leave the area. 

At the end of an awesome day, we typically have a pot-luck dinner Saturday night at the campground.  Bring a dish that can be shared with everyone.

Other options include going to Taos for dinner, or eating at Embudo Station or Sugars BBQ, both about 20 minutes away from the campground.

What about lodging?

When it comes to lodging, I let everyone decide what works best for them. Some people like to stay in hotels in Taos.  Others like to cut cost by camping out at the Orilla Verde State Park.  Others bring camper trailers and RVs.  In the past, some have stayed at Ojo Caliente, Sipapu, or found Bed & Breakfast inns in Dixon, Pilar, Embudo or Chimayo.  There are a variety of options.

I will typically will get a campsite on the State Park Friday or Saturday night, depending on when I arrive. Campsites are booked first come, first served, so advanced reservations are not allowed.  Anyone is welcome to stay at my campsite, provided we don't exceed the limits. 

Campsites at the Orilla Verde State Park vary from primitive to full RV setups. Most have enzyme or flush toilets, and one campground has hot showers. Bring $2-3 in quarters. It's not necessary to stay at that campground to use their shower.

Is the water cold? What do I need to bring?

I'll have a variety of 'farmer john' unisex wet suits, which should fit most people.  If you have a wet suit that fits, please bring it.  Additionally, I recommend bringing a few of your own layers; fleece vest or jacket (that can get wet), polypropylene shirt, nylon trekking pants, Lycra spandex tights, mountain bike shorts, and a good waterproof wind breaker, just in case. Anything that is fast drying, moisture-wicking and insulating is good.  It's not necessary to have ALL of that, but the more options you have, the more prepared you'll be for different conditions.  It also helps to have a second change of clothes for Sunday morning....just in case your clothes don't dry out overnight.

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