From Natalie G's Blog: Maple Island
Second weekend: St Louis, put in above First Wave. During drills and warmup Natalie had me hang out under water with my boat flipped and my hand on her bow to get used to the feeling in a relaxed situation. Great exercise. Definitely was the deciding factor for not giving up on that first T-resue, although the first attempt failed. I remember being back under after the first try and thinking: “Damn it, I am not done with this T-rescue yet!” and starting to signal that I am not ready to swim yet. Successful rescue on second attempt! Since these moments of cool and clarity under water pressure are elusive to date, I really have to stop for a moment and celebrate each one of them!
There were also a couple of waves that I remember taking really well! There was First Wave, that Mike F was really impressed with. And then there was another wave with a huge foam pile that I was trying to AVOID by WATCHING it APPROACH really carefully and anxiously :-) Well, that is still my constant reminder to look in the direction I want to go, not where I don’t want to go! But anyway, there I was all of a sudden where I didn’t want to be, thinking SH*T Apparently even happens to boaters of epic proportions at times. but keeping my paddle in the water where it should be. The white mess of splash was higher than my head as I went through! I came out the other side an upright person if ever there was one! Hah! Natalie told me afterward, that she really hadn’t wanted me to go there, but that she just would have loved a photo of that. Me too, believe me, me too!
Me too, believe me, me too!
The next thing I remember was having my boat out of control and a white hand grabbing the side of my coaming and under I was. Todd came to the rescue, but inefficient paddle technique had worn me out and was what had gotten me into trouble in the first place. On my offside I had my hands and head on his bow, but just couldn’t get that hipsnap as we went down the river in what I remember as pretty swift current for a VERY long time until rock did us part. Todd had seen the rock coming closer but not let go. Thank you Todd! I would have completely understood!
I would have completely understood!
The thing I remember after that was standing on tiptoe on a rock in a tiny midsteam eddy balancing on Natalie’s bow, as Mike J. readied for a rope rescue. Quite the throw, wearing his superhero top and strong as a bear he got me back to the bank, where I had to admit to fatigue and the worry that there would just be one exhausting swim after another for the rest of the run. Decisions were made and Todd walked with me to above the reservoir, which gave me a chance to get to know him a little better. Quite the privilege, I can tell you! A very patient Mike J had towed my boat to the meeting point and then paddled across the reservoir with me. I doubt I had/have ever been as utterly physically and mentally exhausted in my life.
Even now I am getting choked up thinking back to having to make the decision that I would not join them on the river the next day, because I just had nothing left and knew I would not be able to recharge enough over night. Getting right back on that horse would have been very good for me. But I know that I just did not have the energy reserves I needed for a good experience for that second day on the river.
I still treasure the reflective light Mike F gave me at the Survivor’s party with the words, that I must have been paddling day and night to make such a stunning improvement from the first weekend to the second weekend two weeks later. I still dearly treasure Natalie’s Frequent Paddler’s Certificate. And I treasure the memory of one of my long suffering class mates putting his arm around me after my "interesting day on the St. Louis".
I still chuckle every time I remember Mike J's exclamation after entertaining us with rodeo moves: "I think I broke a love handle!"
* That means (for my non-kayaking friends): I was starting to go straight. And yes, that is a big f’ing deal!