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Sierra magazine
Survive | Sucked Under

Ron Smith owns and operates Black Parrot Paddling, a canoe and kayak instructional center with programs in Michigan and Alabama.

"Paddle trips on rivers in the winter and spring can be especially dangerous. Pre-scouting minimizes the possibility of being surprised by a strainer or other hazard. If that isn't feasible, try to have an experienced 'lead boater' scout for hazards and direct paddlers to a safe course. On any paddle trip, especially in winter and early spring, paddlers should be required to dress for immersion."

Have you had a near-miss outdoor experience that you learned from? Send your survival stories to Sierra senior editor Paul Rauber at for possible inclusion in a future column.

Illustration by Koren Shadmi



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