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bear by san

March 2017

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leighton pavonia

I saw an angel. I saw my fate.

I just got back from my first whitewater kayaking lesson, taken with the Appalachian Mountain Club in Middlefield. It was, I note, a whitewater kayaking lesson, not actual whitewater kayaking. It was on a nice, calm pond.

What I learned:


  • I am too large for almost all whitewater kayaks.

  • A wet exit is actually not that hard; the scary part is tipping your kayak over on purpose.

  • I do not expect to be doing rolls any time soon.

  • My bathing suit is too big.



Actually, I think I'm not in love with the whole whitewater kayaking thing. It seems to be mostly about doing tricks. However, the skills will stand me in good stead for river kayaking, if I stick with it.

All in all, I would rather have been climbing. I really need to get going three times a week again, or I am never going to make any progress.

Drove home under a pewter-colored sky with clouds scraped across it like luminous paint. Now I am in bed with my cat.

Comments

::shudders::

Summer camp, many years ago, me in a kayak, and counselors tipping us over on purpose to teach up out to emergency exit the kayak.

It still gives me nightmares.

Good luck to you.
I think the only time I kayaked was through a mangrove swamp -- I was down in Puerto Rico for work, and there was a bioluminscent bay that only could be entered by human-powerd boat. So after the conference, one night, some of us skipped out to go on a kayak tour.

My poor partner (they were two-person ocean kayaks) had to paddle most of the way back, since my arms gave out. Trip was worth it, though.

So, I think I'd have to build some muscle before I took up any kind of oar-paddled boating.
I am not too much of a man to say that whitewater kayaking gives me a serious case of the scaredy-no. Especially that whole affixed to an upside-down boat part.
I-uh, heard too many stories from an ex-boyfriend about Stupid Winter Canoeing/Kayaking tricks on the Willamette River in Winter to be comfortable with the concept.

That said, I spent one afternoon watching someone who knew what he was doing practice rolls and staying in one place under a pedestrian bridge over the Willamette, by Autzen Stadium in Eugene (just below the segment that warns "only fools and experts should attempt this").

Good on you for at least trying. Wet water bugs me.
I'm surprised they let you in a kayak at all, without being taught a wet exit first. The first tie we rented kayaks years ago, we rented them in Houston to take with us to South Padre Island. The guy wasn't all that thrilled with renting to people who weren't highly experienced, until we pointed out that we were rowers and these were a hell of a lot more stable than the boats we were used to, and that my husband had lots of experience on the Rogue River (rafting and in inflatable torpedoes). Even so, he made us practice wet exits there on the grass before he'd let us take the kayaks.

(We're still not highly skilled kayakers, but because they are much better vehicles for sightseeing, we've ended up kayaking in all sorts of exotic places, literally from the Arctic to the Antarctic, while we row mostly on boring lakes and canals.)
Did you see the part where I said I learned to do a wet exit?

You *can't* practice them on grass. You have to be upside down and under water or it's not a wet exit. I mean, yeah, you can practice pulling the skirt off--but that's not exactly hard.

I've got a bit of experience with flat water kayaks at this point, but they're not even remotely the same thing. If you capsize or swamp a flat water kayak... you fall out.
I saw that; I just thought you've said you've already been doing a lot of kayaking. Or was that a sit-on-top style? (My brain doesn't default to that kind when I think "kayak" - not that I'm an experienced-enough kayaker for that to mean anything but a lack of imagination.)
I have been doing a lot of kayaking.

You don't need wet exit tactics in a flat water kayak. They have a giant hole: if you capsize you just slide out.
That's what cats are for.

Years ago when I lived on Crete I used to kayak a lot. They were the best, sometimes the only way to explore many of the sea caves. Not only will it help build your upper body strength for the rock climbing, it really eats the rolls around your middle.
I've been kayaking for two years. This was a whitewater class, which is different.

I shouldn't giggle

But I'm very glad you've had this experience - the timing couldn't be better (from a purely selfish standpoint :-p). You'll see why about 50 or so pages into the novel...

- D
Given that the skies opened waaaay up shortly after we left you, we were wondering if you had indeed done the kayaking thing. I am impressed by your fortitude under soggy conditions. Though I suppose you really can't get too much wetter...
It was actually nice down at the lake. We got lucky.

It was so awesome seeing you.
The awesomeness was pretty thick on the ground. Plus: GRD for the win!
I took an introductory sea-kayak course a few years back, in which wet exits and rescues therefrom were emphasized. I managed to be the first person to "practice" a wet exit when I tipped the kayak over by accident, and I found it easy-peasy. Getting back in (the rescue bit) was a different story, as we were well offshore at that point.

I'm guessing that whitewater kayakers don't have to worry as much about the rescue bit. The typical whitewater river isn't that deep nor are you terribly far from shore.
Pretty much, yeah. Eventually I will learn rolls.

Rolls scare me. Especially since, as a big girl, I get the big kayak. And it is harder to roll.
Wet exits I was okay with, when we first went over them. It was the hull rescues where you have to flip over on purpose and then wait under there for the other person to show up. Those were the worst.
Also, we had to do a test for breath capacity that involved flipping over and then pulling our way across lengths of the pool, which I believe was called beetling(?). This was also terrible. D:
Yeah, I'm not doing t-rescues yet. Maybe next week. Meh.
I have done whitewater canoe, and I have done kayak, but never got to do whitewater kayak, to my sadness. I liked kayaks. My other half is very dubious about trying to put us in one. Sigh.

Glad you got to do this! I need robot arms so I can go kayak/canoe again.
I took a two-week intensive white-water kayaking course about a bajillion years back. It's easily the longest period of time in which I have not read a book since I was 2 - I was simply flat at the end of each day. Ate dinner, collapsed into bed, and didn't stir until rousted the next morning. We were learning on actual white-water though, the Rogue River in Oregon.

Rolls will seem impossible until the day they suddenly make sense. Then they will seem impossible all over again, when you discover the difference between going over with intent and already set up to roll back, and getting knocked ass-over-teakettle by the river. I got to the point where I could roll in lessons, but never managed a combat roll. One of our instructors could manage a combat roll without his paddle - he just used the flat of his hand.
Hee. I have made the executive decision that I would rather spend the energy on climbing, as I have no intention of actual white-water kayaking any time soon...