back to lodore

i’ve been to the river and back again. my first commercial trip? check. there were only 6 of us – 3 guests, 2 guides, and myself – a “trainee”. there were always a couple people in kayaks, so i had my first chance to get in one. boy, i tell you what – that’s the most uncomfortable piece of gear i’ve ever donned. after only 45 minutes of practicing rolling, my hip and knees have been yelling at me all week. caylan taught me a sweep roll. turns out rolling a kayak is a lot more difficult than it looks, but it’s all in my head. actually rolling the boat over from upside down is pretty dang easy if you do as you’re told. i got it on my 4th try, but even after 45 minutes of practice i was only at about a 50% success rate because everything in me wanted to do it differently than what they were saying. my head doesn’t work very well when i’m upside down in the water strapped into a small plastic boat. i’ll keep practicing the kayak, but for now i’m still enjoying rafting far more.

i ran lead raft most of the trip, which is a challenge, but mostly only a mental one. in doing so i realized that my difficulty on the last trip came mostly from attempting to row like someone was telling me to row: in other words, i was trying to row like a man…a man with very large muscles. to be honest, i’m glad i spent 4 days doing so, however, because i discovered that i’m capable of rowing like that, but it’s certainly not natural. it seems every trip on the river presents a major theme in my school-of-rowing. in fact, they’re often one extreme followed by the opposite extreme.

last trip i learned to row with short, shallow strokes in very little water. i learned how to push forward through the water rather than forever pulling back away from everything. to plan a line and execute it.

this trip i learned to stop forcing things and not to rely to strongly on my ‘plan’. in every single rapid i ended up following a line i never could have planned while looking at it. i would decide precisely which rocks i would move around in which direction and how many strokes i’d need to do so. inevitably that would prove impossible and in an act of despair i would start pirhouetting around rocks that i was never supposed to even end up near. after a few rapids this way (sucessful ones!) i realized i’d simply combined the information i gathered on the last trip (forward rowing, shallow strokes) to my natural rowing style which involves lots and lots of spinning and often plowing backwards through rapids.

learn a skill, add it to the bulk and tie it all together. this is getting fun.


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Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
-Kahlil Gibran

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