A few years ago, a hardcore kayaker held a race on the Payette River's continuous Class V-plus whitewater. That idea quickly turned into the North Fork Championship--one of the most elite whitewater kayak races in the world, drawing kayakers from across the globe. Now in its third year, NFC kicks off with The Melt Awards, a film and photo festival devoted to whitewater paddling that will leave audiences in awe of nature's power and the folks brave (or crazy) enough to face it. Racing begins Thursday with a qualifier round at 11 a.m.--boats put in at Otter's Slide and finish at Banks Bridge. The BoaterX race at 5 p.m. on Friday pits 10 kayakers against each other through Class V rapids, 12 miles above Banks on Highway 55. The main event is Saturday, with an insane slalom race down Jacob's Ladder at 1 p.m. (mile marker 86). Sit in the bleachers beside the river this year, or view the race from a comfortable car with food and drinks on the Thunder Mountain Line train, which leaves from Horseshoe Bend.