Pro-Tip: Definitions of Whitewater Terms
We throw around a lot of terms in the boating world and it can be daunting as a new boater to know what's being talked about. We compiled a list of many of the terms frequently seen on WWGB, and some that we just love because, well, they make us look cool. If you have any more awesome words you think we're missing, throw them on the comments section.
cfs (cubic feet per second), noun - The unit to measure the flow of water of a river. It measures how many cubic feet of water pass through a given point in a second. "Shred the Gnar Falls is most exciting at 25,000 cfs."
Class, noun - Class refers to the difficulty rating of a rapid on scale from I - VI where VI pushes the limits of navigability and danger. "Shred the Gnar Falls is a gnarly Class VI rapid"
fpm (feet per mile), noun - 1. the unit to measure the gradient of a river; 2. an average of how many feet a river drops each mile. "Shred the Gnar Falls has a steep gradient of 100 fpm."
Gnarly, adj. - 1. particularly difficult or scary. 2. a term to describe something that is really, really cool. "That was a gnarly swim down Shred the Gnar Falls."
Gradient, noun - The measurement of how steep a river is. Rivers that have higher gradient tend to have bigger drops and/or more continuous rapids. Gradient is typically measured in feet per mile (fpm) and can measured as an average of the entire trip or mile by mile. "Seriously, the 100 fpm gradient of Shred the Gnar Falls is crazy steep."
Outfitter, noun - An individual or corporation that is permitted to take money in exchange for a guided trip. They provide equipment, insurance, and qualified guides. "There are no outfitters for Shred the Gnar Falls because no one wants to take on that kind of liability."
Permits, noun - An official document allowing people to boat down a river. The purpose of the permit is to track use or limit the number of boaters on the river, but not all rivers require permits. Permits are issued by managing agencies and some are issued on a competitive basis. "You have to get a permit from the Forest Service to kayak down Shred the Gnar Falls."
PFD (Personal Flotation Device) - Also known as a life jacket or life vest and is mandatory for any kind of river recreation. They add bouyancy so that you don't drown. There are many different types, most commonly used for rafting/kayaking are Type III or Type V. "You absolutely must wear your PFD down Shred the Gnar Falls."
Portage, noun/verb - Walking around a rapid instead of going through it in your boat. Some rapids are too difficult or dangerous to go down by boat and it is less dangerous to walk around it and/or line your boat through. "Most people portage Shred the Gnar Falls."
Put-in, noun - Where a boating trip starts, the location where you put your rafts or kayaks in the water. "The put-in for Shred the Gnar Falls is right off the Highway."\
Rec. level (Recommended level), noun - The recommended water level to boat down a river, most often measured in cfs but sometimes is measured in feet. "The rec. levesl for Shred the Gnar Falls is 15,000 - 25,000 cfs."
River Guide, noun - 1. The person in the raft that appears to know what they're doing; 2. Someone that loves rivers, being in charge, or avoiding the real world so much that they guide rivers as a job. "Our guide talked like a surfer air-head, but was surprisingly knowledgeable about all things Shred the Gnar Falls."
Season, noun - The time of year when a river is best for boating. Most rivers have a season when they are most likely to be boatable due to rainy seasons, snow melt, or releases from upstream dams. "The season for Shred the Gnar Falls only lasts 2 weeks in August due to dam releases."
Scout, verb - Looking at a rapid before running it. It's recommended that you get out of your boat, tie it up, and go look at what your about to do before going through most large rapids. Sometimes unexpected obstacles are in the river which could drastically affect how you go through a rapid. "We have to scout Shred the Gnar Falls - I heard there was a new log jam in river right."
Shuttle, noun - The act of arranging or pre-setting transportation at take-out so that you aren't stranded at the end. You can set shuttles yourself or on some rivers hire a company to do it for you. "The only easy part of the Shred the Gnar run is the shuttle because it's only 4 miles long along the highway.
Take-out, noun - Where a boating trip ends or the location where you take your rafts or kayaks out of the water. "The take-out for the Shred the Gnar Falls run is gnarly steep."