There have been a lot of greats this year. Teaching fellow cancer survivors how to paddle, making trips over to the Lochsa, hanging with my friends after paddling, surfing various features for the first time, etc. But one really stands out in my mind. For years, my friend "Aberry" and I have been paddling together. Each year, we go bigger and bigger, even though we are getting older and older
Our standard after work run is the Gallatin. This year, the two of us went together one night. As we were putting in, we realized this was the first time the two of us were putting on without any of the guys. Just us two girls, paddling a beautiful river. For some reason, even though we have paddled together for years, traveling all over, the two of us had never paddled alone together. Our husbands or guy friends ALWAYS seem to tag along. Not that we don't love them, but they always find some reason to come with us. To say the least, we were stoked.
Things went well until we got to House Rock, the class IV that leads into the Mad Mile. I think we were giggling the whole way up to this rapid. Alright, I'm the only one who giggled. Aberry is more adult than me. There is a huge eddy/still water above. This rapid usually gives both of us problems. Aberry had flipped in Wacker, right above the main "pit" a number of times this year, which is not fun. I managed to get myself pinned in the middle of the Mad Mile this year, with an easy self extraction (i.e. I confess my swim
) We were both nervous. Aberry looked at me, I looked at her, we nodded and I took the lead. I ran House, and caught an eddy right below House Rock and she took the lead down the Mad Mile. When we got to the bottom, our grins were so big, we were probably scaring the fish.
Afterwards, we found a great eddy and worked on our squirts. (We both finally bought boats that are small enough for our tiny bodies to squirt.) We hung there for maybe half an hour, just having fun.
She and I have been through a lot of ups and downs together. I don't know if two years ago, we would have paddled that section alone. While we had the skills, we still had to build our belief in ourselves. We probably would have walked. I think we both felt as if we had cleared out last mental hurdle, a clean run on our home river, just us girls.
It is hard in Bozeman to find female paddlers. I'm just glad I have a friend like Aberry. Can't wait for our next paddling trip!