Thank You James
When I heard of the tragedy which took place on SBC last week I really didn't know what to think. I guess disbelief and bewilderment might best describe my thoughts. It made me think back to before I even met you, I had heard from others about your kayaking. Being that I had a curiosity for the sport, I naturally wanted to talk to you about it. The first day I met you; there was a picture of you kayaking on your desk. I asked somewhat timidly, "Is that you?" With out even lifting your head you responded in a mono-tone voice "on some days." And that was about the extent of our first conversation. As years passed we became friends and the topic of kayaking became more and more frequent. It was on one of our many trips up to the Jane last winter that you convinced me it was time for my own kayaking career to begin. On Super Bowl Sunday you took me to the pool for my first lesson. With all of your gear on, and in your creek boat, you pushed me off the side of the pool. As the boat dropped into the water, and the nose dipped below the surface I was already hooked. You spent 3-4 pool sessions teaching me the basics. You were persistent yet patient, making me roll, roll, then roll again. Once April came around and the rivers started to run, you called me up and invited me to run Shoshone with you. I'll never forget how nervous I was walking up to water with my new boat. You made my first trip down the river very comfortable, despite the 3 very long swims I took. The next time we went was a cold wet morning down Waterton. That run was awful. I took 2 cold swims and took out half way down above Green Bridge. The next 3 weeks were spent down on the Platte where I honed in on my combat roll, bracing, and ferrying skills at Union. I didn't call you much because I figured you were out running the "hair", but I was looking forward to our next boating adventure. The next time you called, it was to invite me to run the Poudre with your crew. I was so excited. Anxious because I wanted you to see the improvements I had made, but nervous because I didn't want to take another likely swim. We went, and that day was my finest day yet on the water. I ran the entire stretch with out swimming, and when I was upright finishing out the bottom rapid on Pine View Falls there you were saying "Nice work! Although I didn't know it at the time, that would be the last time I saw you. It gives me some ease in this time of tragedy to know that our last run together, you got to see me kicking ass down the Poudre.
I can't thank you enough for giving me an avenue into kayaking. Although others have taken on the responsibility of chasing my boat for now, you were the one who planted the initial seed. Your dedication and patience held true through my own trials and tribulations of learning to kayak. I have learned so much already. Most importantly, I've come to understand kayaking is more than just a sport; it is a journey of personal discovery. Although with your passing some of your predictions have come to haunt me, one that continues to ring true is: I do love to kayak! As you used to say, kayaking is all about grace. You were a graceful boater and an even better friend. You will be missed by all, myself included. Thank you again James.