Originally Posted by Learch
One thing I haven't seen brought up is who you boat with. This has a major impact on what I am willing to do. I evaluate the skill set of the people I am boating with, maybe I don't know them all that well, maybe I do. If I know that I most likely have the higher skill set of the group as far as abilities and rescue experience, then it is not the day for me to push myself. I then take responsibility for the group's safety and want to be in a position to help, not be helped.
If I have people in my group that I know are equal to or more advanced than me, I am more willing to push myself to my limits. This requires a pretty high level of trust. I have had a few day trips in the last year where I felt more comfortable to push my limits because I had people I could rely on if problems arose.
^^^Exactly what I was gonna say.
I was one of those that pushed my limits too far on year 2. A strainer ate me and my boat...but probably stopped me from continuing on down a trip that I was woefully unprepared for in many ways...and likely would have been at best a miserable experience and at worst dangerous. It was a humbling experience, and I already considered myself a river rat at the time....but it made me look back at all the stupid stuff I had done on the river in the past.
I'm pushed by a deep need to explore and get to places few have the ability or desire to go through the effort to enjoy. I'm annoyed at the few runs where a single rapid intimidates me to the point I haven't run it yet. I know fully that I want to live and boat for a long time, so that is the only thing that keeps me honest with myself when deciding wether my skill level is up to it or not. I may even be a little TOO conservative sometimes.
I respect the river more everytime I get on it...and also a little more everytime someone dies on it that I know. I still get the jitters on my first run of the year, or even on a new -to-me classII out of that respect. I think this is a good thing, it keeps me safe to boat again...but dammit, sometimes I still wish I was a young, dumb and invincible 20 year old not knowing just how close I was pushing it.