lean forward and keep paddling!

Posted: October 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: travel | Tags: , | No Comments »

I can’t remember the last time I was so angry, the damned boat wouldn’t do what I told it to. I paddled on my left side, which by all laws of logic, physics, and decency should have made the kayak go right, but somehow consistently pushed me further to the left after about a half dozen successful strokes in left right sequence.

That about sums up my experience kayaking for the first two days of a four day learn to kayak clinic I signed up for in pokkara. Day one was on the lake in town and left me sore, tired, and in bed by 8pm. Day two was on the river, which was a nominal improvement as at least there there was a current taking me in the general direction we were heading, however I hadn’t really considered how much of river kayaking is fighting the current, either because the kayak instructors told us to or because I overshot where we were supposed to stop and I had to make my way to the group. Not only did I spend more time than necessary paddling in circles, the tame class 1 rapids managed to capsize me on more than one occassion, a frightening thought when I knew we had class 2 and 3 rapids waiting for us on days three and four.

Imagine my surprise when on day three the kayak started listening to me, it actually generally went in the direction I intended. Even better, I somehow managed to successfully perform a roll with my kayak during the early morning practice and was able to make it through the class 2 and 2+ rapids of the day without capsizing. I even smiled a little! Ok, maybe I went as far as shouting while paddling through the rapids, or screaming, anything as long as I didn’t go under.

Day four I was convinced that day three was a fluke, I couldn’t seem to manage a roll anymore, I was sore all over, and we had the biggest rapids of the trip to look forward to. It is only through sheer dumb luck, and the coaching of my instructor Sam (who went through the biggest rapid _backwards_ and managed to keep himself positioned through raging water right next to me, shouting instructions to me) that I was able to stay upright despite ending up riding several 2 meter tall standing waves backwards.

I’ve heard that when learning snowboarding the first two days are just hell, but then it all starts to make sense and becomes fun. I think the same applies for whitewater kayaking. Lean forward and keep paddling the head instructor continually hammered into us, I must have listened because right now my ab muscles are sore as hell. It was a blast, and if you are ever given the opportunity to try it I very much recommend it, just push through till the third day, it’s totally worth it.

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