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Adventure Magazine

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The Adventurer's Handbook
30 Crucial Skills, Nifty Tips, and Shameless Shortcuts
By Robert Earle Howells

How to Swim Rapids

If you dump in the middle of a churning river, the first thing to remember is to hang on to your paddle, says veteran river kayaker Arlene Burns. It extends your reach by five feet [1.5 meters], making it that much easier for someone to haul you back into the raft—always the preferred option.

But if there's no one nearby to help, Burns advocates "the Mark Spitz school of self-rescue: Swim like hell. I know, everyone says to lie on your back with your feet up, so you can flex your knees and bounce off rocks. But I say, be flexible."

Sometimes, when you're above a rapid, a few vigorous strokes can help you avoid a nasty hole or massive rock downriver. (Assume the traditional defensive posture before you enter the white water, though.) If you're below a rapid, swim for shore—the next big one may be just around the corner.

Next Tip: How to Swing a Machete >>

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•  Introduction
How to
•  Avoid an Avalanche
•  Avoid Blisters
•  Beach a Kayak
•  Bike Up Steep Trails
•  Build a Fire When It's Wet
•  Climb Higher
•  Cross a River on Foot
•  Fight Altitude Sickness
•  Find Your Way
•  Fix Gear in the Field
•  Haggle for Anything
•  Hike Lighter
•  Keep Warm on Frigid Hikes
•  Leave (Absolutely) No Trace
•  Make Tastier Backcountry Grub
•  Melt Snow to Drink
•  Paddle With Power
•  Predict the Weather
•  Put on Your Skis
•  Run Off-Road
•  See More Fish When Diving
•  Ski Faster
•  Slide Down an Icy Slope
•  Slip a Bribe
•  Stick to the Rock
•  Swim Rapids
•  Swing a Machete
•  Take Better Photos
•  Telemark for Real
•  Wipe Out on a Bike
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January/February 2002:
In the Magazine | Excerpts | Adventurer's Handbook | Sierra Ski Photos | Grand Canyon | Deadly Conservationist | Forum | Snowboard Boots, Bindings | Travel Tools | Everglades Guide

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