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Old 06-27-2009   #11
I kayak DH.
Waterwindpowderrock's Avatar
Greater tri cities metro area, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 794
I went from class III to V+ in my second season (one swim in that time, W.fork next to my house) I ran everything with complete confidence & rarely had an issue, I then switched boats 2 years & 16 cracks in my hull later(same type of boat, got a new hull) and never got the feel in the new boat, I pretty much never got my confidence back & haven't really creeked much since then.

I'm sure I'll buy a new creeker & it'll go away, but in the meantime I just run everything in my playboat & I'm fine.

I understand how you feel though, I think a small step back & some time will probably cure the nerves, just build on positive experiencees for while.

Discover Denver, stay there!
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Old 06-27-2009   #12
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 436
I totally know where you are coming from dude. I had a nasty, cold, high CFS swim a few years ago in Upstate New York at the Inner City Wave on the Black. Snowing and cold, and there is a damn about a 1/4 mile down from it that I almost swam over. Oh, and it was snowing.

I will say that I am still recovering from that 2 years later. Before that, I was totally comfortable on class IV and competant enough to do pretty well on class -V. Bailey was my favorite run and I could run pretty much all of it no problem.

In many ways it was sort of a wakeup call and made me realize I was mortal. I was never the hardcore knar creek boat dude, but I was getting comfortable with class V water. There is nothing like a good drubbing in a hole or a nasty long swim to make realize that its no all pancakes and daisies out there. I started boating when I was 12 and the Pirouette was both the "big time hardcore" playboat and the coolest move most people were making. In that time, I have "lost" my role at least twice, and its all due to confidence.

I'm always amazed at how much a difference a bit of confidence makes in boating. I'll echo the advice another post gave in this thread, and say that taking a step back and starting again with where you feel most comfortable. If you are scared on class IV and freak out, then take a step back to Class III stuff. Go spend a bunch of time at the playpark trying tricks that make you flip over and have to roll. Do it somewhere safe where a swim isn't gonna make things even worse again.

Lastly, for me, I have realized that I'll probably never do Class V stuff again. The last time I went on Bailey I swam twice, once in Dear Creek, and again on some boogie water where I really shouldn't have had an issue rolling, but freaked out. I'm just not in the frame of mind to think about that stuff anymore, and don't need it. I'm glad I experience those years of pushing myself on harder water, but it got to a point where I really started getting uncomfortable. I no longer need to do the hard stuff to have fun. Maybe I've "matured" in my late twenties or something, but I just don't need it. So I'd say have a look at what you really want to get out of boating, and whether doing the harder water is something you still want to do. If it is then awesome, you have a goal to work towards. If not, then thats awesome too, and you shouldn't feel like you are "pussying out". There are so many awesome rivers that don't push your limits too much, so go enjoy those.

Oh, and yeah, doing class V water in your second year of boating is pretty unusual. There is definitely one thing I've seen with boaters who do that, and there is sometimes a lack of respect for the water, since they have progressed so quickly. When a situation like you had happens, it all of a sudden is forced on you and your "survival" brain kicks in. I've seen it with a lot of begginers that learn their roll in the pool over the winter before they really start boating. Since they don't have those obligatory swims that most begginers do, its a big deal when they have their first big one in a real rapid. I think its also the major difference between your average boater, and the guys who go throw themselves off huge drops in remote locations. You get to certain place where to go further it takes more balls then skill. I think I have the skills to be able to do a huge drop, but I certainly don't have the confidence or desire to do so, which is the more important part I think. Lose the confidence and the skill goes away.

Ok, I'm rambling on a bit so I'll end it there. Go do some fun easy runs and get your play on, I bet it will do wonders for getting the confidence back.


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Old 06-27-2009   #13
hojo's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
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Posts: 1,234
Have you been practicing swimming though rapids on a regular basis? Even if you have a bomber roll and you're paddling any a given stretch of water accidents can still cause a swim: flip in a hole and a skirt implosion, a pin, etc. If you practice swimming on a regular basis you can be better prepared when the real deal happens. As far as losing your edge, take it back to formula and paddle the easy stuff until you feel comfortable again.
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Old 06-27-2009   #14
thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 600
When fear and anxiety rush throught your body (enjoy it) training, practice and experience ( T.P.E ) must kick-in. That is the difference between a novice and a professional. The only way to close that gap is through pushing yourself to the next higher level and mastering each one. Identifying your weak points at each level and making them stronger will help you focus and create talent needed to over come the natural feeling of fear (being scared). That first auto-rotation from 200 ft. always scares the shitttt out-of-you, but with T.P.E. it becomes more of a true sporting event than a threat. Hope this helps to put things in prospective. Plus you are an adrenaline!!! junky, face-it. You will always look for more, day or night. There is no help for us. P.S we don't always do the safe/smart thing.
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Old 06-27-2009   #15
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
Some good advise here though but for me, taking an SWR class where I did quite a bit of swimming of rapids and that was huge difference for me. You gotta decide what you are feeling anxious about, if its holes or swimming then go work on it. Several different solutions and you will find yours but my ideas are, go to a ww park and get in a hole in your river runner boat and learn more about holes. Also you can chuck your ass in and swim some rapids or features at a park. Let your friends know what you are doing and have em look out for you. Dont test your limits at this phase just learn more about what your issues are and do it in a fun manner.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 06-27-2009   #16
Airborne2504's Avatar
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 420
Quick clarification

Just wanted to clarify that I was not, nor am I, boating class V stuff. I'm definately not to that level yet. I was just setting safety while two of people from our group ran the top V-.

Thanks for all of the great advice, very helpful. That Whitewater Phiosophy sounds like a fun read/good read. I'll see if I can pick that up.

I have taken a Swiftwater class already, took it during a weekend in the beginning of May.

Why I boat? It is partly for the adreniline rush, not gonna lie there, I've always been attracted to rushes, hell, I jumped out of planes in the Army for 4 years, HAHA! But, mostly why I boat, is b/c of the "spiritual" aspect I think. I'm completely at peace on the river (well, mostly, LOL), out with good friends, experiencing beautiful scenery, and life's worries seem to disappear while on the river; no bills, no school work, no work issues, no girlfriend/wife/significant other issues, etc. I also enjoy the the mental, physical, and spiritual challenge of the sport too, I just think it got the best of me yesterday. I think I'd eventually like to get on the bigger, more challenging stuff.

I'll be getting back in the saddle again soon, when we plan another trip(Hopefully in the next few days or so), or if there is a trip posted here that I think I can handle.
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Old 06-27-2009   #17
brenda's Avatar
bc, CA
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 316
I agree with practising swimming. Take a swiftwater rescue course...they make you swim everything. I submitted a post last year similar to yours call "I can't just give up". It took me a while to recover, but with all the support and advice from others, I am back to loving the water and am paddling better than ever.
P.S. I didn't start until I was 50!!!
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Old 06-27-2009   #18
Lakewood, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 504
I've been in a funk for little while too. This if my fourth season and I think it started two years ago when I got worked in a sticky hole for the first time. Until then, I went into every feature on the river I could find, and got lucky I guess 'cause I never really got stuck. I didn't swim that day, but I gained respect for holes and started avoiding them like the plague.

Then last year I took my first real swim on Lower Mish after getting stuck in some random hole. That freaked me out a little and I paddled like crap the rest of the day. Since then I'm definitely more nervous on the river and am not having as much fun. It's worst right before putting on or right before a big rapid. Once I'm in it the fun returns, but it's constantly going back and forth.

Last weekend I took my second swim at the top of Triple Drop (below Pine Creek). I've run that rapid probably 10-15 times. I walked it the last time I was there because I wasn't feeling it, but ran it without incident every other time. I really wasn't feeling it this time either but I was determined to conquer my head issues. To compensate, I tried to avoid the ferry to the right by taking a line I though existed on the left. It only exists if you like boating into large sticky holes. It was a violent mofo and wouldn't let me go, so I swam. This swim was in a much worse spot than the Poudre swim and I was scared shitless when I first pulled. But I got out pretty quick and actually felt good about the swim. So I wholeheartedly agree that swim practice is a great idea. I'll also say that my fear was the direct cause of my swim, since I was trying to "sneak" it. I've tried to sneak a particular hole on Lawson for the same reason and got flipped and banged up both times. The river does not respond favorably to fear.

I can't give you any advice, but I can sure sympathize. FWIW, I'm going to get a bigger boat to get that crucial false sense of security on the bigger stuff. I'm also going to playboat a lot more to get reacquainted with holes and rolling. Its tough, because most III is not much fun anymore and most IV gives me the willys. The worst part is I'm paddling better this year than ever if you go by the number of times I roll.
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Old 06-27-2009   #19
DurangoSteve's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
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I'm not a kayaker (rafter and duckiest), and I don't aspire to Class V at this point in my life (geezer), but I certainly understand fear and sports.

Many years ago I had just returned from climbing my first big wall in Yosemite and was climbing at a solid 5.11 level. I was totally fit and absolutely in the groove mentally. My girlfriend (now my wife) wanted me to teach her to climb, and I was pretty pleased about that. We headed out to Eldorado Canyon to do a mellow one-pitch 5.6 for her first technical climb. As I was roping up to lead the climb, I heard someone scream "falling!" I looked toward the sound and saw a climber bouncing down a blank and poorly protected pitch. He went all the way to the ground. I untied and ran to help. The victim was contorted into a shape I had never seen a human body in. He had at least one compound fracture that I could identify and a nasty headwound. His belayer/partner was completely in shock and utterly useless, so I stabilized his friend as best I could and ran like hell for the ranger station. The ranger grabbed his gear and fortunately another EMT happened to be bouldering on the base of The Bastille. The three of us ran back to the victim, and in less than 10 minutes he was being treated by pros.

I was pretty shaken, but I scrambled back up to the base of the climb I was starting, didn't give my girlfriend any gory details, and proceeded up a really straight-forward crack system. I struggled with incredibly basic moves and was scared shitless. I kept picturing the twisted body I had just seen and couldn't stay focused on the rock. Long story short, I topped out, brought my girlfriend up, and went home for several beers.

I continued to climb fairly easy stuff the rest of that summer, but couldn't shake the image of the fallen climber. The next summer, my climbing partner and I took his younger brothers up to do several routes on Devil's Tower. Once again, I was gripped on climbs that I was more than capable of doing. I had lost my nerve. In my case, I never went back to serious technical climbing, but I continue to use my skills scrambling out in the canyons of Utah and on semi-technical mountains in Colorado.

While I lost my nerve and never managed to get it back vis-a-vis difficult climbing, I recognized that it was for the best for me. You'll figure out what's best for you.
You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you. - Heraclitus of Ephesus
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Old 06-27-2009   #20
Gary E's Avatar
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 94
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Air, it happens to everyone. Bad beating, long swim, bad pin or a death of a friend. A lot of good advice and although swimming drops won't help you figure out what's going on stepping back a grade will. Have fun!

This sport is so mental all the time and you have to be aware of that. If you think you can't catch an eddy you wont. If you think you're boating bad you will be. If you're worried about getting stomped you will. Reel the head games in and make them work for you.

I've been a multi day runs with no escape except paddling or walking for weeks. On day 3 of 5 I started the day with 5 rolls in two rapids that you can't be rolling in. I had 7 rolls for the whole trip. The head games started and I eddied out and signaled to my group I needed 10 minutes to give myself a pep talk. What you think while paddling is your reality and you wont be let off the hook.

Props for leaving the river when you didn't feel safe. I've had to do this twice in the last 3 yrs. It's super hard to do and takes a lot of guts. You fight the feelings of not wanting to be that guy that can't get it done or whatever. That's an experienced call, so props. Every great boater you've ever heard of has walked off runs alone.

Also like the post above, I would set up camp and 3 rocks and fire that rapid up. Get in there and feel it, work with it and see what happens. It doesn't sound like you need to step back unless you can't get the above out of your head. If you do not believe, the water will reinforce your doubt. Believe, you can do it and you have before.

Good luck and be safe

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