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The year of brushing monsters out from under my kayak

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In my first season of white water kayaking (2010), I kayaked 95 days. Three of them, on three different rivers, were bad ones, where I got significantly hurt, shaken up, or both.

I spent most of 2011 in shoulder rehab, healing after surgery repaired a snowboarding injury.

This year, 2012, I went back to all three of those rivers, and ran them without incident.

One of those rivers was the Dryway section of the Deerfield in Massachusetts. I blogged about that, when it happened. I revisited that river this past June and blogged about it here:

The second river that spanked me in 2010 was the mighty Ottawa in Ontario. I'd run it earlier that summer with no problem, but the second time I went there I had trouble with my roll and was exhausted by swim after swim. I re-ran that river in July and blogged about it:

In 2010 the third river that taught me a lesson gave me a hematoma the size of a grapefruit requiring an ultrasound and I still have a scar on my shin from it. My swim that day was on the first rapid and it was so bad I just got out and went back to the car with my boat. I never even ran it.

That river was the Lower Gauley in West Virginia.

In 1999 someone died in that spot where I swam, because there is a rock you can get stuck under and drown. Fortunately I'd been instructed to swim to the center of the river if I came out of my kayak, and that probably saved my life. This is a dangerous river, in general. One of the rapids I ran three times this weekend killed someone as recently as April.

You don't mess around with the Gauley. You either Bring It, or you Go Home.

Here are some pictures. I'm the one in the pink helmet.

To get down to the river on Friday and Sunday we had to take a set of rickety stairs down a 1000 foot cliff. Carrying our boats.

Here are some photos from the section where I got hurt two years ago:




There were also some calm spots on the river where we could turn around and watch other boats coming down:

Overall it was an excellent weekend, even with the 10-hour drive on each end. It's a beautiful river, and a big white water festival where you are guaranteed of seeing old friends and making new ones.

My scorecard for the weekend? Two runs in my big creek boat (74 gallons). One run in my little play boat (55 gallons). 5 combat rolls. 0 swims. AND NO INJURIES. (I'm most pleased with that last one, actually.)

I'll definitely be back again when I'm an even better boater, and run the more challenging (and even more fun) lines. I'm in no hurry to push myself beyond my limits. I don't have anything to prove.

And also very fun from a Spark People perspective is that I got into a conversation with Stephanie at the hotel desk, and she ended up joining this site!

She would like to be able to do more outdoorsy stuff and she lives in the perfect area to do it. Maybe next year I'll see HER in a kayak, too!

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
MKELLY72 9/19/2012 3:53PM

    You seem so fearless! Love reading about such adventures!

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LESLIELENORE 9/19/2012 12:17PM

    I think the stairs would have finished me off! I have run anything above a Class II in a kayak, and those made me nervous (but exhilarated), so I am very impressed with your adventures. So glad you didn't get hurt!

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BOOKWORM27S 9/19/2012 9:14AM

    Amazing photos! You're awesome!

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DDOORN 9/19/2012 8:56AM

    Whew! Kudos to vanquishing demons!! Such amazing stuff!


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FARRAH511 9/19/2012 8:50AM


)) -::-
. .))
((. .. - -::-
-::- ((.* Farrah -::-

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SUZYMOBILE 9/19/2012 8:47AM

    Good Lord! The rickety staircase alone would be enough to send me packing back to my car! My hat's off to you!

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CMCBRIDE37 9/19/2012 7:19AM

    Wow my dh kayaks here in biggest fear with him is alligators and the few times he goes in the calm ocean....don't know how I would feel with white water kayaking (but he has a bunch of weight to lose before he would be in good enough shape to do that). Right now kayaking is relaxing for him and not adrenaline producing.

Loved your feature on the daily blog today. Inspiring for me.

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DRAGONFLY02 9/19/2012 6:48AM

    Very impressive!!! I'm not sure I'm as brave as you, even though I'm an outdoorsy person. I've been white water rafting before, but not kayaking like that. Happy for your accomplishments and NO injuries.

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NEW-CAZ 9/19/2012 2:59AM

    I am impressed, I am not at home in water so I take my hat off to you emoticon

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NUOVAELLE 9/19/2012 2:19AM

    Amazing! I would really like to try it some day but, to be honest, it all sounds so freaking scary to me!!! But the pictures look awesome! It's really impressive! Well done!

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BLUE42DOWN 9/19/2012 2:02AM

    So cool that you spread the Spark on top of all the river-riding!

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SWDESERTLOVER 9/18/2012 9:47PM

    Wow! That is so awesome. I love the pictures. I'm new to kayaking and loving it, but for now I'm not doing anything more than a strong class II (I've done one class III), but maybe someday when I'm more experienced. Looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing.

Cindy emoticon

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KATHIC2 9/18/2012 9:41PM

  You are awesome! Having done a little kayaking, I am so im-
pressed and so jealous. You rock!

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SPARKLINGHOPE 9/18/2012 9:40PM

    Impressive! Wow!!

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SNOWYOGA 9/18/2012 9:08PM

    Those are amazing pictures it's like we got to go on the trip with you, but no geting hurt or bug bits! I loved them thanks so much for sharing! You are just emoticon

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