Dagger Ultrafuge – A Kayak Made for the Alberton Gorge

Dagger Ultrafuge – A Kayak Made for the Alberton Gorge

Here is a very unbiased assessment of the best Gorge boat out there. 

Fast? Check. Surfs well? Yes. Cartwheels any feature? You bet. Spins with the best of them? Like a true ultracentrifuge. Stern squirts? No current needed. These are appropriate yet boring ways of describing the Dagger Ultrafuge’s attributes. The truest gauge of a proper boat is the size of the shit-eating grin lighting up the face of the one paddling it. 

An Ultrafugical paradox:

I have been an avid ultrafuger for the better part of a year. The first time I squeezed into this boat I could hardly stand to sit in it, yet alone paddle it. After 20 minutes at Brennan’s wave in Missoula, I was frantically paddling to shore to restore feeling lost to my feet and the majority of the rest of my lower body. While on shore, I knew, I wouldn’t again allow that boat to torture my body. 

At the Alberton Gorge the next day something came over me. I forgot the physical pain the boat caused me while remembering the 20-minute grin that spanned my ears. That run in the Ultrafuge changed how I approach river-running. A once straightforward stretch of whitewater transformed into a playground of endless amusement. The size of the feature did not seem to matter, the Ultrafuge made it fantastically fun. 

  Ultrafuge and the Gorge:

Anyone who has paddled the Gorge knows how playful of a run it is, especially at lower flows. A seal launch to begin the run ensures a smile from the get-go and serves as a beeline to Zero Wave. The Ultrafuge, unlike most modern playboats, will zip across the middle hump of Zero without flushing. Once over on surfer’s left, this boat snaps river-surfer-inspired carves with minimal effort. Like the Price is Right wheel spun by an amped up granny, the Ultrafuge is formidably fast when flat-spinning. This boat is sure to have its paddler sticking their tongue out in amusement. 

In between the various surfs on the Gorge stretch, this Dagger will find any excuse to get vertical. Squirting any eddy-line or boil and cartwheeling in flat-water, this boat has not the slightest concern with feature size. Its ability to splat in Rollercoaster and Mermaid Rock makes the Dagger Ultrafuge an all-around playful machine.

Is this kayak for you?

This boat is uncomfortable. After 30 minutes on the water you may feel the need to get out and stretch. But do not stand up too quickly; you may find that your legs have not yet regained feeling. If you find that a little discomfort is just part of kayaking, then this boat will not disappoint. Give this kayak a try for yourself and analyze that discomfort to fun ratio. You may find a central spot for the Dagger Ultrafuge in your armada.

This kayak creates smiling faces on the river. And that’s what paddling is all about.

HOW TO ACE GUIDE SCHOOL AND YOUR FIRST YEAR ON THE RIVER

HOW TO ACE GUIDE SCHOOL AND YOUR FIRST YEAR ON THE RIVER

Guide training is the first step to becoming a river guide. This week is essential for acquiring the skills and knowledge needed for the upcoming guide season. Boat control, understanding basic river hydrology, guest experience, and river safety are among the key lessons covered. Guides will not, nor are expected to, be experts in any of these categories upon completion of training; however, the techniques and information demonstrated are the fundamentals for a lifetime of continual progression as a guide and river-lover. 

The first day of guide school is full of excitement and nerves—both good things. All first year guides have different river backgrounds. Some have been around whitewater their entire lives, while others have yet to raft a river. Either way, it is okay. Every single person at training is already connected by one thing—a fondness for the river. 

The entire river community is a special place. It is difficult to find a more welcoming, encouraging, stoked(learn the word stoked prior to training) group of people. Every returning guide is eager to pass along their knowledge and experience to the newcomers. Welcome this information and it is shocking how quickly progression occurs. 

Perhaps the most intimidating yet fun part about training is navigating the boat with the oars. On the first day the oars may feel like an awkward eight-foot arm extension that cannot be controlled.  All good. Rowing is nonintuitive and will only get better with practice. By the end of training, every guide will be navigating rapids in style. 

One of the most difficult skills for a river guide to master is reading the river. This skill enables the guide to successfully navigate the river at almost any flow. Learning to read the river takes years to master and is best practiced by following the path of an experienced guide. Asking lots of questions is pertinent in developing an understanding of river hydrology. 

The most important goal of guide training is to develop relationships with the other guides. Like Rome, guides are not made in a matter of days; it takes time, mistakes, and constant learning. Experienced guides have copious amounts of river knowledge and tricks from years of being on the river; by forming solid relationships, inexperienced guides guarantee explosive progression throughout the season. 

Guiding is fun, and because of that, it is easy to show guests a fantastic time on the water. After all, that is the whole point. So join a guide school and become part of the best community on this earth.

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