By By Airman 1st Class Christopher R. Morales
The Outdoor Adventure Program has introduced inflatable kayaking as the newest addition to the multiple trips they offer every summer at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
“This year, we are expanding our program with another new experience,” said Karl Lavtar, OAP inflatable kayaking lead guide. “Inflatable kayaks make [trips] easier and safer. It’s perfect for beginners to get their feet wet.”
An inflatable kayak reduces the risk of tipping over and trades speed for buoyancy.
“Portage River gives the opportunity to try the basics because it is Class I and II,” Lavtar said.
Rapids rank from Class I, easy, to VI, extraordinarily difficult. Portage River is a very shallow low-difficulty rapid ranging from light riffles to regular waves and a few obstacles to avoid.
“We wouldn’t expect to take our [hard] kayaks to these types of rivers,” Lavtar said. “You would tip over if you didn’t know what you were doing.”
Participants can enjoy the sights of glaciers, mountains, and potentially wildlife on a guided trip through Portage River. The river runs out of Portage Lake and is made entirely of glacial water.
Like all guided trips, prior training isn’t required because there are guides and others to help. It is highly recommended by the ORC that any trip, such as kayaking, mountain biking and hiking, be in groups of three or more for safety concerns.
The inflatable kayaking trips are available to all service members and their dependents 14 years and older. Participants must also be fit and able to swim if need be. All the necessary gear is supplied by the OAP, such as a personal floatation device, water-resistant layers, dry bags and an inflatable kayak.
The first trip was June 12 and had a team of eight from enlisted to officer, Army and Air Force. It was the first time for many on an inflatable kayak, and it was also the first time most of the kayaks have hit the water.
The trips can be booked up to 30 days out when a part of either the RecOn or Single Airman Program. The only SAP offer is for July 23 and the next RecOn offers are July 9 and Aug. 6.
The OAP would like to expand all of their trips, Lavtar said. Right now, the only location for inflatable kayaking is Portage River, but with more participants and an express of interest from the community they could guide more adventures.
For more information, call the OAP at 552-2023.