Whitewater festival kicks off the summer season, deputies warn o - KPTV - FOX 12

Whitewater festival kicks off the summer season, deputies warn of cold waters

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The Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival kicked off on Saturday marking the start of the summer season for paddlers.

“Look at all the people around here having fun. This festival brings everybody together from all different rafting circles,” Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival Co-Organizer Luke Spencer said.

But deputies are reminding people that it’s all about having the proper equipment and remembering that the water isn’t so warm.

“Memorial Day to Labor Day is like our summer season,” Goodwater Boat Works Shawn Riley said. “It’s like church out there, you get out there and all your worries go away and you’re just charging hard down the rapids with your friends. It's so fun.”

Organizers require racers to wear the proper gear and encourage people to be as safe as possible in these choppy conditions and have first responders and law enforcement on hand.

Deputies said as the temperature warms up, they know people will be getting out on the water more and being prepared is the most important way to stay safe.

“The big one is knowing the temperature of the water knowing the current of the water. This time of year there's a lot of melt off from the mountain, the waters really cold. The current’s really swift, moving fast,” Clackamas County Sheriff Office Deputy Guy Matychuck.

Deputies said don't ignore the risks. Your chances of surviving on a whitewater river like this while wearing a life jacket are much higher than if you forget it at home. 

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