BANKS — Ed Riding has been kayaking since 1996 and every summer the Salt Lake native meets his son Aaron who lives in Oregon at the Payette River in Idaho.
It’s an interesting dynamic because Ed is visually impaired and can only clearly see about five to ten yards down the river, which would be pretty scary for any kayaker.
“It’s continuing to get worse,” said Ed Riding. “But I’m not ready to give up and quit so I’m still skiing, I’m still riding a bike and I’m still kayaking, but I have to have help with all of it.”
Aaron Riding helps his father navigate the river by orienting their boats in the proper position before a rapid and Aaron picks a line that allows the pair to navigate down the river.
This year the pair has a brand new set of waterproof radios that allow father and son to communicate in the rapids in case the two get separated.
“This year has been awesome because he has actually settled in, he’s boating more confident now with the radios,” said Aaron Riding. “Last year we had a couple of scrambles when we got separated.
Ed acquired the radios from the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah and because he’s a blind veteran who served in the U.S. Army Ed was able to get help in purchasing these radios and it is something he wants to share with Team River Runner who takes the visually impaired on the water.
“I just can’t say enough on how much I enjoy this sport, how fun it is and how much it helps me stay young,” said Ed. “For a 67-year-old blind man I’m doing great.”
To see this father and son combo navigate down the Staircase run on the South Fork of the Payette River check out the video, this is a class IV section of Idaho whitewater.