The Argo Cascades: Wild Ride
Hood loves outdoor adventures--it's his business--but thinks the city's attitude toward the Cascades is dangerously blase. "There are risks in any recreational pursuit," says Hood. "It's all about managing the risks."
Saam insists that the city's risk management measures are more than sufficient. She points out that first-timers are shown a one-minute "instructional video" of the Cascades trip at the Argo livery. In fact, it's mainly a promotion for all the river rentals that briefly states you might capsize if you can't handle your kayak.
Notices on the livery counter say renters must be "capable swimmers"--the current below the drops is strong enough to push people over if they try to wade. The notices also specify that the person in the stern of the kayak must be experienced in "steering a boat" and have made at least five previous trips in a kayak before going down the Cascades--ten if there's high water on the Huron at the time. But of course there's no way to confirm renters' self-reports of their experience.
Saam further says staffers can instruct renters in paddle technique, and she confirms all renters must wear life preservers. Hood, however, says he's seen small children riding the Cascades without life preservers--and says he has never seen anyone getting paddling instruction on the river. Asked about that, a livery staffer shrugs and says they just teach "basic paddling--nothing expert."