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, August 24, 2008

Return to the St Louis (360cfs)

Two days of perfect happiness!

Two years and a few months ago the Louie took everything I had and then some. It sure taught me what mental and physical exhaustion really are.

This time I was a different paddler and it was a different river! It was awesome for me to see how far I had come as a paddler and it was particularly awesome to be able to show that off to Natalie on one hand, who had among other folks been guiding me for the last more than two years, but also on the other hand to Mike, who hadn't seen me progress like Natalie had. He just saw that bundle of misery (me) two years ago and this bundle of happiness now. I ran the Upper clean including the Ledge on the sneak on river left. I could go on and on about how great everybody who was on the trip was and how important that is for me to have a good experience no matter what I do and especially on the river!

Thanks to all of you for the Novice River Skills weekend and especially Natalie for making it happen and leading the weekend! Natalie, I am still laughing at your impression of me "sneaking up" on a wave! :-) Mike and Brian, Did I really do a somersault? Thanks for the rescue! Marie, thanks for all the encouraging scores you gave me for various moves! And thanks to Kathi, Jim, Oggie, Lynn & Drew for the camaraderie, what a blast!

For me that was a bit of an exorcism. If you wanted to look back to one of my very first posts, I am talking about being on the Louie for the first time and how it took me a year to just admit to myself, that I was scared out of my wits from the experience. I had also been beating myself up about not doing better on the river, which of course helps no nothing. I also felt so embarrassed especially in front of Mike, who is so boysterous and fit and the absolute opposite of someone who just can't go on because they are scared and exhausted. I am starting to feel good about my paddling. I am ok about my limitations. Yeah I still need a lot of support from my fellow paddlers to keep me out of trouble, but I don't feel like I need to be babied down the river. And if you read this and find yourself in what I am saying, then listen up: I probably never did have to feel so bad about my skill level. It would have been so much better for me and everybody around me, if I just had been able to accept, where I was at, rather than being so hard and unreasonable on myself.

Just before parting Mike, who had been the face of my own inner critic said, that I was PHENOMENAL. That should teach us a couple of things. For one, nobody can possibly have such a bad start in a sport that they may not eventually be able to enjoy it. And that goes, whether you look at it from being the beginner as well as from the perspective of the teacher. There's no such thing as knowing that a person is lost.

I am philosophising a lot here, but for me this was a really really important run just like paddling is a really really important thing for me to do. It has such a big influence on my life. Going back to the Louie seeing how much I have grown and how much things can change, have bouyed me at work, which also has been pretty darn tough for long stretches of time. And paddling just plain makes me happy. I must have known that it does all along, even during those times when I was absolutely petrified and terrified on the water. I can't imagine what else would have let me persevere. Paddling makes me happy, no matter how bad the week at work was and no matter if that guy I am so smitten with doesn't reciprocate. There is always going to be a river flowing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I checked your blogspot; awesome! I just humbly want to say that Natalie, Mike, Marie, myself and every other kayaker out there has gone through, or is in the process of going through exactly what you describe. It is the mind game part of white water kayaking. White water kayaking is very much an extreme sport, like sky diving, scuba diving and all in between. It is challenging for everyone, and that is why it is so fun and rewarding as you get better and realize that it is indeed very much a head game. Try not to rush it or beat yourself up about it (easier said than done). It's supposed to be fun! Everyone goes through the same learning process and understands what it's like.

Brian J.