Very few mortals will ever willingly plunge over a waterfall. And that's a good thing. Even the best of the professional kayakers suffer serious injuries when they descend waterfalls. Tyler Bradt, the current world-record holder for dropping 186-feet over Washington's Palouse Falls (seen in the video above), just broke his back on the current viral sensation, Abiqua Falls.
Kayaker Jesse Coombs, one of our previous Adventurers of the Year, successfully ran 96-foot Abiqua Falls last spring. It made a media splash then, but has surfaced again now on serveral major news networks. We asked Jesse to paint a picture of what it's like take the plunge (so we don't have to!).
Your last waterfall run just went viral—again! Can you describe what happens from the moment you put in your kayak until the moment you rise from the froth of the waterfall?
Jesse Coombs: Once you put in the water above the drop you are mentally and physically committed to running the drop. You have already studied the waterfall and picked out the exact line you want to run. You have mentally and physially practiced the motions and feelings on shore you will execute to have a successful descent.
Now that you are in the kayak, you first need to check your mental space to make sure you are comfortable and energized and ready to make the descent. Then you check that the photographer, in this case, Lucas Gilman, is ready. When he says the light is right and the cameras are ready, it is go time. You check yourself and your equipment one more time and visualize what you will do and what will happen. You take deep, calming breath, and when you are ready you head into the current that will lead you to where you need to go.