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Old 06-27-2009   #21
Kayak/SUP Instructor
Theophilus's Avatar
The High Ground, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,325
Public Service Announcement;

If you're gonna swim in the play park don't swim over the right side of Number 8 at Pueblo. I got monkey stomped there once and I know somebody else who did too. Look at it through polarized sunglasses at low water and you'll see the nasty scoured out hole.

"Let us cross the river to the other side and rest beneath the shade of the trees." ~ Last words of Thomas Jonathan ''Stonewall' Jackson
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Old 06-27-2009   #22
Lyons, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 41
Thoughts on losing your nerve

I don't post a ton. But this kind of struck me as I wrote an article for the Jackson Hole News about this very subject after a conversation we were having in Aaron Pruzan's shop (Rendezvous River Sports) about this exact subject back in probably 96 or so. Basically Dave Collins had made a point about paddling being different than most other sports like climbing etc because in those sports, if you aint got the goods, you aint getting on the rock... Paddling, any jackass can jump into any class 5 and the water will be glad to accept him/her and just as glad to trounce him/her once in. So too often we see boaters who are surviving runs at all levels who develop a false sense of security that just because they finished the run with all gear in tact and no injury, they "ran" it. And I guess I beg to differ. In many cases they survived it but they by no means ran it. And that "surviving vs running" is often a very personal thing that only you really know. So sure, you got sketched, maybe you have skills well beyond the move you missed/the stretch you were running etc. Maybe you were above your head that day and had some false sense of you ability based on the fact that you'd run it before or what ever. All i'm trying to say is that you've been in this great sport for 2 year and you want 20 more. Sounds like you're doing great and Geary's right cut your self some slack BUT also maybe there's a wake up call in here that says whoa, maybe your boating beyond your ability. And as any longtime paddler will tell you, Sure you might escape numerous runs at that level unscaved but eventually, well eventually it catches up with you. So please understand, I've never paddled with you, have no idea how good you are etc. I'm just throwing a thought out for you to think about . If there's nothing to what I'm saying, cool. Then power through and don't let the headtrip days we all have on the river get you down. Just recognize it for what it is. But if there's something else at work, make some adjustments. Because the most fun you're ever going to have won't likely be this season or the next but somewhere down the road when you're just out paddling to paddle and you realize WTF I just ran that shit and I didn't even crap my self.

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Old 06-28-2009   #23
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,373
Good thread. D'Steve, that is a compelling story.

Most all of us are working personal edges in this sport. I see boating as a dance with the rio and dancing with style and grace is my goal. I'm always assessing where my game is at and carefully choosing what runs I get on at what levels and with what paddlers. Stepping back a class for a week or a season or the rest of yer career is all part of maintaining your balance and maybe even staying alive. IMO, recognizing the need to walk off the rio is a big step in maturity as a paddler. Kudos. There's no need to rush your progression, the rio will be there next week or next season. (Eleven Mile is so freakin beautiful its worth working at yer game just so you can get back in there!) Mostly, keep it fun and keep it safe.
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Old 06-28-2009   #24
DurangoSteve's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,907
Just as soon as I clicked "submit," I realized that my climbing story wasn't remotely encouraging as far as you sticking with kayaking. OK, I'll try again. In 1980, my climbing partner and I spent several months bumming around the West, climbing in the Tetons and Sierra Nevada. We were fairly new to the sport but young and bulletproof and fit. Late in the summer, we decided we were ready for the NW Face of Half Dome.

We hiked in from the Valley and I took off up the first pitch. It was early morning, and cold and dark in the shadow of that massive monolith. Rocks were whistling past, knocked loose by climbing parties above us. I got a bad feeling as I climbed and was second-guessing the wisdom of committing to this multi-day climb. Anyhow, I got to the first belay ledge and set up the anchor. Meanwhile, on the ground my buddy was having his own doubts. Neither of us wanted to say anything or appear "weak," but we both wanted to retreat. Eventually I started to stammer out my doubts and my buddy interrupted and said, "Thank God, let's get the fuck out of here!" I happily rapped off, we packed our packs, and hiked back to the Valley floor to do many other challenging day climbs over the coming weeks.

The point? If you're not "feeling it," by all means don't do it. Kayaking, like climbing, is a head game.

Postscript: It turns out that our instincts were absolutely right. We were totally off-route and things would have gotten very complicated very quickly. We went back four years later and styled that climb when we were truly "ready."

Pushing yourself is good. Rushing ahead before you've had time to really learn the subtleties of water is not so good. There's no hurry. Take a break or step back a class, as many have advised. Be patient, be safe and enjoy.
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 06-28-2009   #25
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 141
chiming in

Since the original post asked about losing the edge I'll just add that I have lost it and gained it back countless times in my 'career' and now I'm to the point where it is really a daily estimation of where I am. I find myself more and more reluctant to run class V because I can have such a great time on class IV without the heebie jeebies. I think that's just a function of seeing and experiencing just how many things can go wrong. I used to confidently, and foolishly, huck myself down just about anything (Super Collider on the Poudre Narows in a Vertigo comes to mind) and I could not have survived without some skill and a lot of confidence but it becomes more and more apparent that luck is a pretty big piece of this too. Unfortunately, it takes only a second or two of bad luck or a mess up to catasrtophically change (end?) your life and those of the people around you. I always wrestle with the sentiment "at least he died doing something he loved." That may be very real for some people and I deifnitley drank that Kool-Aid years ago but it has become clear to me that I don't buy it anymore. Kayaking has influenced my life perhaps more than any other force but I would rather walk away from it tomorrow than die doing it. There's too much else out there to experience. Of course that is a personal decision and I fully respect those who come out on the other side of the cost-benefit analysis.
The other piece that I wanted to throw in, Air, is that water levels make a big difference. Running Parkdale with a lot of water in it is nothing like a low water run. Its easy to lose sight of that but we often get in trouble beacuase we tend to see 'class III' runs at lower water levels and then when they spike up we have similar expectations. Even if the consequences aren't dire, big water can feel pretty overwhelming, whether that is making the moves you want to make or getting trounced in a monster hole. Stick with your goals of clearing your head and spritual communion and find the joy of making difficult moves in rapids with lower consequences. You'll know when you're ready to step back up.
Vaya Con Rios!

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Old 06-28-2009   #26
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 23
Just wanted to say MIkeG- your quote is the shizzle.
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Old 06-28-2009   #27
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
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I was part of a club in the midwest that had big problems with people getting in over their heads way too fast. It was dangerous; I was part of the sloppiest, scariest rescue I've seen with that group. Anyway, it's definitely worth paying attention to whether you're having any fun on the river. There's a big difference between being a little gripped because you're near the edge of your comfort level (as long as your comfort stops short of your ability level), and not having any fun at all on the river. If you're not in the right headspace to do something on a particular day, don't do it.
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Old 06-28-2009   #28
springfield, Missouri
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 7
Been there, I believe the advice above is enough. I get scared crossing the street nevetheless paddling v, love it though. The fear keeps me in check.
In friendliness,
Blown ferries and nasty holes, what kind of sport is this ?
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Old 06-28-2009   #29
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
I can understand your issues Airborne, I jumped out on the Arkansas my first two seasons without so much as a feable brace or any semblance of a roll. Consequently I have swam damn near every rapid on the river, at most levels. Similarly, I had a shittly swim through 3 rocks a couple years ago that really hurt my confidence...getting a bomber roll and practicing has taken care of that, but I can relate to how you felt about 11 mile. I just ran it yesterday for the first time and I, personally, think it is tougher than a low water #'s or Gorge trip, I came out with a very bruised shoulder, a split chin, and a very large dent in my helmet...anyway, if your interested we have a group organized for a trip to run the upper Rio Grande and Mesa Canyon on the upper San Juan next weekend, good stuff for having fun and building your confidence back up...
keep at it
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Old 06-28-2009   #30
Idaho Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 189
well done

Well, there is a ton of good advice that you have received on here and I have very little to add, but I'll share my experience too.

I progressed quickly, like yourself. I unfortunately jumped the gun a little too quick and took some beatings. They all turned out ok at first but I eventually recieved bad beatings.

About a year after I began kayaking, I lost my best friend of over ten years to the sport. He was an amazing kayaker and friend. Even as good as he was, he swam out to a pinned boat to help out and was pulled into an underwater, terminal seive that no one knew about. He was on our backyard run...probably ran it a thousand times. This is by far the toughest thing I have ever faced.

so, here I am four years later. I didn't even paddle for almost a year and contemplated selling my stuff and wondering if this sport is really worth it. I decided it was and gradually stepped myself back up to class V. Things have been going much better this second time around. I've even had a few clean lines thru the V's!

All in all, I just wanted to tell you that getting out was an excellent desicion. If you were so freaked that more than one person saw it on your face, it's time to leave. The one thing you can't do in this sport is lack confidence. You have to believe in yourself.

However, if you wanna step back go for it. But it sounds like your solid and just made one small mistake. it happens to everyone. These mental fights don't go away. That is the best part of the sport. It's just as mental as it is physical.

I was feeling really good in my boat, tons of confidence and had never swam up to this day. Missed one small paddle stroke and got fed into a giant hole. It was my first swim and a horrible one. My late friend was there that day and quickly instilled confidence back into me. As I stood on the bank contemplating whether to run the next drop with fear in my eyes he says "this drop will be here, you can walk it now, but you can run it now and have redemption for the entire day. I think you should fire it up."

good luck. sounds like your doing fine and just facing the normal battles.

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