Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We Need A Go Pro!

Last Sunday we were invited to join BASK (Bay Area Sea Kayakers) on a down river paddle.  We have done a good share of ocean kayaking and A LOT of lake paddling, but this was the first time that we have had an opportunity to get out onto a moving river.  Most of the paddle was a lazy float with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, that is when not navigating through the maze of rafters and avoiding (or trying to get a direct hit, whichever the case may be) from their water cannons, but the best parts of this stretch of river were the two sections of Class II rapids that we got to ride through.

In all actuality, these rapids were no more challenging than the times that we have run Yellow Bluff on the San Francisco Bay, but the river was new to us and these were RIVER rapids. At least that is what our minds were telling us anyway. As the only camera we have right now is a point and shoot waterproof camera and I have yet to set up some kind of tripod system for videos and  I was too hesitant to release my grip on my paddle, we don't have any good pictures of these sections of water so you will have to use your imagination.

Soo picture this...

You are paddling down the river with twenty-four or so other paddlers.  You know rapids are coming up and this will be your first time experiencing them. Your nerves are building. With each little stretch of bumpy water you ask yourself, "Was that it?", but no, the group confirms that the rapids are still ahead. 

Finally, there in the distance you see the white water rising. You slow your stroke to let a few paddlers get ahead of you and watch as they approach the rapids.  They seem confident and in control as they paddle and brace through the white chop and hey, they are still upright, so you follow their line and make your approach. Just as you commit, you see a boat in front of you flip. Instinctively, you reach for the release strap on your spray skirt, just to make sure it is not obstructed and to give yourself one last mental reminder of where to reach... just in case.  There is no turning back now.  You find that you are no longer following the line of 5 confident paddlers, all your mind focuses on now is that one overturned boat being swept along. The current is sweeping you swiftly into the rapids and all you can do now is keep your hips loose, hope that you apply each brace correctly and pray that you don't make the same mistake that the poor wet paddler in front of you did. Another boat capsizes. You don't want to look, but you can't look away. The water is crashing over your kayak, spraying you in the face, splashing over your sprayskirt from the sides. The current and waves are trying to turn you sideways, you apply a stern rudder to quickly correct your direction and keep your kayak pointed straight ahead. A wave hits you from the side and you feel yourself tipping to the right, you brace. Another hits you from the other side and you start tipping to your left, you brace again.  A series of quick braces with a few stern rudder strokes thrown in and before you know it, you have come out the other side.

You scan the T-rescue attempts taking place to make sure your assistance is not needed.  You spot a piece of foam padding floating slowly down river, so you paddle over to retrieve it and return it to it's soggy owner. Then you make your way over to join the group waiting in the eddy by the beach.  Finally you breathe and a huge smile crosses over your face.  You went in a novice and you came out the other side, upright, relatively dry and with more experience and confidence than when you set out!

The only problem?  There is only one more set of rapids left to go through before the day is over!!

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