My last post on this topic............
To paddlehater, I began this post in an effort to open your eyes to a mountain sport you know little of. I meant this to be educational, eyeopening and instructional. It has swerved off track into an uncontrollable pissing match. You are looking for an arguement in defense of paddling. Well, I am not good with words but I'll do my best to explain what it is paddling is to me.
Whitewater kayaking is an intense adrenaline sport that takes years to learn. It is a sport that that demands physical and mental endurance. At times it is a hysterical blur of barely controllable fear and at others it is a overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. And still at others it is a moment of calm reflection in nature. It is raw, it is pure, it is a balance of one's self, raging water, nature, control, bravery and fun. It's like nothing else I've ever participated in, it is addictive and becomes a way of life for those who can handle this balance.
Paddling for me is also an opportunity to get away and share good times and adventure with friends. Some of my closet friends I've met through paddling. And friendships that already have existed have strengthened due to this sport. This isn't a sport you can do on your own.
Paddling is a sport that can be, when one's personal limits are pushed, always on the edge of potential personal injury or life threatening catastrophy. Therefore those who participate in it like myself are on the most part knowledgable and many certified in different river safety courses so that a relatively safe paddling environment is created. The river is somewhat unpredictable and is respected by all who have had the opportunity to experience it. This knowledge and these learned / taught abilities allow paddlers to partake in a sport where one person's safety is in the hands of the group. I am my brother's keeper when we are on river. I for example am certified in the areas such as hydrology, First Aid, CPR, National Ski Patrol Outdoor First Care, Wilderness Outdoor First Responder, Swift Water Rescue, Colorado and New Zealand licensed whitewater guide and finally a licensed WW Kayak Guide for the American Canoe and Kayak Association. I have all this for what? Because the sport is "extreme" to use a word paddlehater is familiar with. Are these such skills needed by "fruit booters?"
Let's use some other similar sports that I have also participated in and or instructed to draw comparisons from. Climbing and mountaineering for example. These two mountains sports are similiar to that of kayaking by that a certain level of knowledge of "how to" is mandatory to create a safe environment so that the sport can be enjoyed. These are both also adrenaline sports in that a wrong move can result in injury and or death. Again this balance that I mentioned is incorporatated. Now, I am to believe that these sorts of mountain sports are "lame" or "dorky?" Is climbing Everest dorky? Is dropping a 110 foot cliff in a kayak dorky? Is base jumping dorky? Is the Ecochallenge dorky? Is big wave surfing dorky? All the sports share something in common. They require bravery, skill, respect and simply put....BALLS. So now I guess it boils down to a matter of opinion. Where does paddlehater draw the line? Coming from someone who is afraid of certain roller coasters I can only offer an opportunity for him to participate in any of the above sports I have experience in. His opinion of "cool" sport is what? He is interested in none outside his television. Participation may change his perception of "lame" mountain sports. It's easy to stand on the sidelines and cast ridicule but until he does participate and stops substituting striking out in beach whiffel ball and yoga for sport, I'll just have to take my own word for it. And consider the sports I love "dorky."
So I will accept any labels you wish to impose on us the paddlers, it no longer bothers me. I now understand not all people have the need or want to experience sport that takes them outside their comfort levels or their living rooms for that matter. And that is ok, but until you experience any of what I have mentioned above or become passionate in ANY sport outside the TV I'll be turning the tables back at you by saying that indeed you are the "dork."