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Old 09-03-2008   #11
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 4
Thanks for this post! I'm so glad to hear I am not the only one out there. I too have the skills (bombproof roll, river reading, etc) but when I get out there to do some big water, I stop having fun because I am so nervous. I feel so stupid about it sometimes. The thing that has helped me the most is having a crew that understands my anxieties, and if I am nervous on a section, they just lead me through until I feel more comfortable on the third or fourth run. There are some sections that I have decided not to do because I am so nervous about them, and I think that is okay, because I got into this sport to have fun. I think it is important to push yourself to the next level, but try to find that balance between having fun and advancing to the next level.

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Old 09-03-2008   #12
Renaissance Redneck
LSB's Avatar
Huson, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 988
My wife calls me that. I had to ask her what it means. Dont send this to her. The last thing she needs is more ammo.

Oh, and I did teach her to paddle but she quit because of the same thing yall are saying. She was really only interested in learning to roll anyway.

"You're gonna be doin a lot of doobie rolling when youre LIVIN IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER"
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Old 09-03-2008   #13
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Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 679
I think fear on a river has a lot to do with the group you are boating with.
Also, boating with someone you are dating doesn't work well while trying to learn. I know this from boating, climbing, boarding, etc.

GH, as political as you are, I'd have thought you'd have looked that word up during the primaries.

"I think I handled my alcohol pretty well considering how drunk I was." -Cousin Dan
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Old 09-03-2008   #14
Gunnison, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 73
down river playboating

I don't know where your playboating skills are, but down river playboating is a blast. Kinda combines the two. You're constantly looking for good play waves to jump in and good rocks to splat on or spin over or wave trains that you can throw a wave wheel or something off of. It's great fun and it's hard to get scared when you're goofing around that much. There's so many ways to just be goofy (and safe) on the river. A couple girls I know talked about when they were on a river that has a lot of rafts they will determine before the trip that they have to call out every stoke they take like a raft guide before they take it. ( so you're constantly saying "left side forward, right side forward" etc.) It sounds really dumb, and it is, but it's absolutely hilarious. just goof around and have fun.
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Old 09-03-2008   #15
Self-Aggrandizing jackass
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The Ranch, Colorado
Paddling Since: 04
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,134
New experiences scare me to the point that I pray (and I'm an atheist, so maybe I'm just trying to meditate). Any new river, and I grip up. Any new river at a higher flow than I've seen, and I grip. (ask GH about my day on the Numbers at 1800, jeez; I'd have gotten off the river if I didn't have to ferry across to the other side to do it). And everyone laughing about how I screamed trying to get back on line in Number 5 that day. They thought I crapped my pants (for the record, i did not).

I agree with tracing your fear to the source and dealing with the source. I love kayaking because it has required me to choose to compete against unconscious obstacles I create for myself. Fear is my largest obstacle, always.

For me, repetition has taught me that I have the skillset I need to be in the water I want to run. And I spent plenty of time working skill sets in water I knew very very well. Plenty of mistakes have taught me that while I make mistakes, I recover well, and I trust in my ability to recover. Repetition has taught me that the fear is there, but I can choose to ignore it and get downriver without letting fear cause me to lose focus.

I was really bolstered by an LVM I saw one time; one of the kayakers was saying how the thrill of kayaking was the difference between being at the top of a drop, not knowing if you can do it, being scared out of your mind, but launching anyway, versus the feeling of being at the bottom, looking up at what you just ran, knowing you succeeded, and the feeling of triumph over what you felt up top. I agree.

I've never cried at the top of a rapid, though I've wanted to. But I've cried at the bottom of several. It was a mix of relief at letting the fear out finally, and jubilation at having overcome it. I'm no adrenaline junky. Being afraid isn't fun for me, in any fashion. But pushing myself beyond perceived limits is one of my highest rewards. Fear is one of the limits I have to push through.

Reward yourself with the feeling of triumph at the bottom. I see that as sort of like muscle memory. It conditions you to fight the terror on your next run.
"self-aggrandizing jackass" - it says it right on the label
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Old 09-03-2008   #16
chellebelle's Avatar
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 8
Wow, so many replies and some really solid advice - thanks! The root problem is the fear of the swim! I totally suck at swimming (plan to take some lessons this winter) and the fear of pinning on rocks. I boat w/an ACA instructor (who happens to be my hubby) so I have solid backup and believe me, on more than one occasion he has leapt out of his boat mid rapid because of a blood curdling scream out of me!

Thanx for letting me know that it's ok to be intimidated by the river.
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Old 09-03-2008   #17
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Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,448
Routine can be very helpful in centering your mind before getting on the water. For me that's stretching in view of the river, saying a quiet "thank you" for the beauty and magnificence that is the river, get in the boat, splash some water on my face, paddle out feeling centered. It's sort of a pre-boating meditation that provides confidence and focus.
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Old 09-03-2008   #18
Gunnison, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 73

Just remembered probably the most important thing. Get a song stuck in your head and whistle/hum/sing it on your way through the rapid. Again, sounds really dumb but it works. Makes the rapid a hundred times less intimidating when you've got "la bamba" going on in your head. I don't actually know all the words so I just swap in Mexican food items that I do know, which makes it even funnier. I think most boaters have some funny song in their head whether they admit it or not. I can't imagine I'm the only one.
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Old 09-03-2008   #19
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
Thats so funny. I do the same thing. I generally use disco music, I cant help but grinning.
"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 09-03-2008   #20
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Lakewood, Colorasta
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 843
Originally Posted by chellebelle View Post
I've been paddling for 3 years, stepped up to solid Class III+ this year and on more than one occasion I've completely lost it and cried. Anyone else have this problem? My skills are solid, roll is solid...just HATE river running. Got into the sport for playboating, which I absolutley LOVE! Never cry while I'm playboating, just river running! Any advice? Please don't tell me to stop river running as this is NOT an option. I've gained some solid water reading skills from rivers and would like to get over this fear I have.

Do whatever you feel is right. I never really playboat anymore but I used to all the time. Sometimes I think I might still be a better creeker if I did.

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