Heraclitus once said you can never step into the same river twice. He never said anything about using a river as a deadly racetrack for the world’s best extreme kayakers.
In early June, 30 paddlers converged on Jacob’s Ladder, a Class V rapid that stretches three-quarters of a mile down the North Fork of the Payette River in southwestern Idaho. It was the first ever North Fork Championship, and the highlights have been compiled and thrown together in the propulsive video featured above.
Local river hero Ryan Casey took home first place for his 2 minute, 17 second line through the churning whitewater. Second went to Missoula, Montana’s Tyler Bradt and third to Canadian Mikkel St. Jean-Duncan.
Casey came into the event with an advantage: born just hours away, he’s hit this stretch of the river for nearly two decades. “Home turf advantage for sure,” Casey tells Canoe & Kayak. “But, really, I wish we could all just go paddling instead of running Jake’s over and over again.”