Friday, November 8, 2013


I am thankful that I was exposed to kayaking.  While canoes do not inspire any sort of interest for me, I do truly love kayaking.  Since I first sat in one last year, I have embraced every chance I've gotten to kayak some more.   Each time, I've done a progressively more challenging river.   I have gotten wet, but only because I have now kayaked through rapids and 'rock gardens',  under bridges, through culverts, underneath fallen trees spanning the river, through tight turns in currents running 16 miles an hour, and down drops as large as about three feet.  Kind of hard to do that without getting splashed once in a while.  And there was that one time this summer, when I got caught in the current while trying to avoid a kayak wreck immediately in front of me. . . That was the fast, tight river with lots of fallen trees as obstacles.  Did a lot of kayak limbo-ing on that trip.  (Kayak limbo is what I call when you have to lay backwards on your kayak to get low enough to clear a fallen tree so you don't have to get out and portage around it.  'Cause portaging would mean getting out, and getting out increases my chances of getting wet, even if it is just my feet and legs!)

When I began kayaking, I had a theory that if I could relate it to what I knew about riding horses, specifically, riding dressage, I would pick up on kayaking technique very quickly.  The more I kayaked, the happier I was to find that my theory held.  By taking what I know about balance, using individual muscle groups versus an entire side or section of my body at one time, and 'feeling with my butt' (you gotta be a dressage rider to understand that phrase), then testing that knowledge in my kayak, I just had more and more fun and quickly got more and more skillful.  My first major conquest was the Sturgeon River of northern Michigan in August of 2012.  DH confessed, when I had been the only one of our group to stay upright during the most challenging stretch of river (everyone else in the group has done this river yearly for at least five years), that I am the only person he has known to do that portion of the Sturgeon and not flip.  Was I rather proud?  Oh yes.  Mostly because it was clear he was impressed and proud of me.

I repeated my performance on the Sturgeon River this August,adding in a more expert level stretch that the majority of our group bowed out of, staying at camp while us die hards floated for five more hours .  And next year, if the weather is warmer, I think I will do the Midnight Float, which is a traditional part of the Sturgeon trip with our group (well, DH's group; he's been doing the annual Sturgeon trip since about 1999, I'm pretty much the newbie still.)

Since my first Sturgeon float in 2012, I have been exposed to even faster and more technical rivers.  I have loved kayaking more and more as the challenge level increases.  Guess that's the bent and twisted side of me :0)

Will I ever white water kayak?  Probably not.  White water rafting holds no fascination for me.  In fact, along with bungee jumping and going to a casino, it's on my 'over my dead body' list (the bungee jumping aversion seems odd when I tell people I'd love to try skydiving. . . but for some reason free falling is okay to me while free falling then getting yanked back upward to repeat several times is not).  I see white water kayaking in the same light. It's just not something I want to do.  But taking a kayak and exploring every windy, twisty, fast moving river in Michigan?  You betcha!  (But I'm still not gonna get wet if I can help it; I'm still the kayaking diva.)

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