Definition for Kayak :-)

Kayak [] n. 1. an oblong banana shaped boat with a hole in the bottom from which the occupant dangles. Can be propelled the wrong way up by experts. (definition courtesy of Pete Knowles)
(And I've got this one from Chris' Kayak Lexicon)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Canoe U 2007

(Beware: Part 1/week1 is a class IV-V intense post, week 2 is easier reading.)

Over the past 9 or so months I had been working on admitting to myself, that I was scared of taking my whitewater boat into a river again, since the St. Louis. So this was going to be my year of deciding, whether whitewater is something I can mentally do. The good news was that I knew that this wouldn’t be the end of kayaking. There’s recreational, there’s seakayaking and there is greenland, a fascinating style I had just discovered at the Outdoor Expo.

Weekend 1

Day 1: Wow, I was driving “tightly wound” to new heights. Good eddy work, but had lost my ferry. (Thus the title of the blog.) Art taught us a great way of getting just the right posture for peeling out and it is as ingenious as it is simple: just look down river when you have crossed the eddy line. Sweet! Works like a charm!

Swims: 0 (v. good!)

Oh yeah, those catch and duckie games were great fun and work. I want to try and get folks together again for one of those when nothing is running in the summer!

In the evening Art had a long discussion with me about options for the next day. I shared my concerns with him and it was good to hear him say that he had watched me, that he thought I had the technique and that it’s all in my head. It didn’t immediately click for me, but as he talked about paddling in a group and putting your trust in the most experienced paddler, it suddenly became clear. Art knows a lot more about paddling than I do! He was right about the looking downstream trick! Why shouldn’t I rather believe him saying I can do it, rather than my doubts, who know very little about paddling indeed! Did some powerful visualisations before going to sleep involving Art with a huge grin on his face at Big Eddy saying “Told you so!” :-) Resolved to keeping an active paddle, staying calm, and maintaining an aggressive posture.

Day 2:

Waking up to 40F air temperature with little hope for a warmup. Character building stuff. (Thanks Stace for closing those cabin windows!) More visualisations and good stretchies!

No rush by anyone to get to the river that morning. Tony asked me, if I was pumped, and you know what, I was! Highly focused, intense, but ready and rearing!

No eagerness to put anybody into a swimming situation, wetsuit or not. Lower Kettle again. Thank you fate! That was exactly what I needed: An easy moving water experience that gets me back into the game. Art had us pick lines and at the end of the run I had made some good improvements.

Todd has tought us this really elegant way of catching small midstream eddies. It was a movement I immediately liked the first time I tried it. Can you believe it, that I’ve never been able to execute those all well as under the influence of Todd?

Art never did have that big grin on his face that afternoon, but he would the next weekend...

Tony, Alex and I ended up having dinner together on our way home. Alex asked me if I was going to stick with WW and from somewhere within me, the only possible answer emerged as a yes.

I was strangely touched by Tony’s SYOTR, which left me without words as I parted. There had been this moment in an eddy, where he had looked into my eyes and just wouldn’t let go. I can still see him right in front of me...I had a similar experience with Emily Jackson whose Indian spirit eyes I can still see looking right into mine for a very long time...

Over the next hours a rising sensation seeped into my awareness, something had shifted. A new thought was forming. I would be running rivers.

Weekend 2

Day 1:

Gorgeous weather! Clearly I had driven up for this weekend with a lighter heart and a new paddle jacket :-) Chad had joined the class and Nora. Both great at making people feel at ease.

After a good amount of technical work with race games and other fun stuff, we set up to run the Upper Kettle.

Swam Blueberry Slide but had Art’s rope flying toward me quicker than you can say “Waterstick”. Needed a cool off anyway, it was a hot day. Still had a boat and a paddle and eagerly slid into my boat to get back unto that water! I found my ferry again at Shoulder’s Hole. Hurrah!

Was rewarded by a successful run of Teacher’s and it’s Pet. As I pulled into the eddy I thought my face would have to explode with my excitement. And Art, not just did he have that visualized huge grin of his face but he also said :”Told you so!” (I started wondering, what I should visualize him doing later that night: buying me a new red playboat...or as least a cuter helmet...)

Running Mother’s Delight I managed a delightful 360 degree turn. Yeah, a roll would have been nice, but no, we are talking 360 yaw. Seeing as I came out right side up I am giving myself at least novelty points for that one, no matter what Art says!

Another swim awaited me at Dragon’s Tooth. Did not like that swim as much as Blueberry, the picture makes pretty clear, why. Yeah the picture if from much higher water, but being in it versus looking at a picture of it still meant quite a bit of spluttering!

Dragon's Tooth

What a fantastic day, I was positively strutting for the rest of it!

Gripping paddling stories from Bob D kept me at the campfire when really earlier I couldn’t wait for dinner to be ready so I could go to bed right after. (We’re talking 7.30ish...)

Paddling guys quite fascinated with my silly little chair. (v. good!)

Finally tucked in, I somehow didn’t get a good visualisation with Art in it going, may have to buy playboat myself after all.

Day 2:

Woke up pretty exhausted after dreaming about some quarrels next to a white van that involve barracudas, hamsters, guppies, wolverines and a bottle of vodka. Or was it a dream?

At breakfast I was still in good spirit ordering a huge pancake expecting to burn this off paddling, swimming and maybe some playing. Once at the river getting instuctions to scout for lines I completely froze. I had to keep telling myself to breathe. Chad looked at me rather knowingly and had a suggestion ready, when I told him half an hour or so later that I would bow out after warm up.

And on this picture you can see me racing Chad in a rapid! While he has the National Velvet hat, I have clearly the faster boat.

Well, at least this time I actually made it to the river on W2D2. Surely next year I will put in a full day’s work!!!

Still had a gorgeous day on the river and seeing how much better everybody did on the second run is an inspiration for me. But it does make me immensly sad, that yet again it hadn’t been me. I did get closer though, damn it!

Go Megan!

Art a(u)ction: Going... going...

Below is a picture, where it looks like Chad was actually holding my hand. While that only looks like it, he figuratively had done so all weekend. Yeah, Chad is pretty high up on my short list for MN people of the year. Shackleton move over!

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