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I logged in this morning to be punched in the mouth again.

I started this sport after whitewater canoeing with my family. I have seen so many beautiful places and met so many exceptional people. I spent three hours yesterday with my 3 and 6 year old. Three year old trying to paddle in the canoe. 6 year old trying to make a kayak go straight on flat water.

I once took a full year out of the boat in response to a personal tragedy. I am an addict to adrenaline, and it brought me back. I am torn about my kids. If something happens to me, or my wife, we are adults who understand the consequences of our decisions. If something were to happen to one of our children as a result of their pursuit of my passion, I don't know if I could carry it. Why don't I carry this same feeling when it comes to skiing? I am a better skier than kayaker, and those I know who have passed skiing have had a common theme. They were taking a big risk. On the water, exceptional people have been taken so fast, while being well within their boundaries.

Sorry for the rant.

I know some of you are much more sage than myself. I look forward to your thoughtful response. A couple of you have saved my life in the past. I know I've said it before, but thanks. You are my brothers.
 

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Wife and I just discussed this very thing this morning
My class V days are probably over and kids are a little young but really dig the river lifestyle
I hear ya about the fear of harm coming to them from something that I contributed to
Who knows what the recreation adrenaline recreation possibilities will be in a few years when they are ready
Probably stuff that I have never thought of or am capable of
 

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It's a personal thing. I have yet to start my 6yr old kayaking. For now, riding in the raft is good enough. I am not sure when I will proceed with the kayaking. My son is not fearless and complains when we hike too far, so I do not think he will follow my exact footsteps anyway. Now my daughter is the one I will have to watch out for, much more adventitious then my son. She loves to climb and I can see her bagging peaks to ski down with me. Our theory is my son takes after his mom, my daughter takes after me. Only time will tell how it turns out and you can't worry about everything.

As far as class V boating, I may have had aspirations when I was younger and single. Now where I am at, I can't see myself pushing to get into it more. I should say kayak wise as I just rafted Pine Creek last week as the water was coming down. But we all know that as V goes, Pinny is on the easy side of things.

Good luck with your conscious, only you can bring peace to it.....
 

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No one knows how many days we have. Remember that. Frame your philosophy within that context, always.

I myself am more atheist than agnostic these days.

When I was 36, I buried the woman I would have married, and I kayak because of that memory. She left a half's life worth of goals and hopes and dreams on the table, and as she lay dying, I promised her I would try to fulfill some of her dreams in her honor. Kayaking was one of them.

I get it if you have kids, that there are important considerations for them, and I applaud, honor, and respect your consideration of their highest good.

I do think you have to feel alive. I don't have kids, so I could paddle gnar. Fortunately for me I'm a huge pussy, and not that good a boater, so I can't cash those checks. I can get thrill enough on Numbers and harder IVs.

One thing to think about if you're wondering how you would fill the place that Class V fills for you: See how it feels to teach the newbs. I've done my share of it here and there, and it's really gratifying to help someone get their first roll, or to see someone with a beaming smile as they just got through Mad Dog upright on Filter Plant of the Poudre.

For me, if there's a god, he's completely indifferent to suffering, because everything on this earth dies in some miserable way, and the best they can hope for is that death will come quick, so you don't have to be afraid, or have regret in the moment your spark fades from this place.

For us thinking apes, add to that the hope that you're life was fulfilled, however you define that (which hopefully includes examples like Count's, giving to others and living in a way, as his parents said, where your enthusiasm is contagious to others around you). That is the immortality I seek: to have lived in a way that people will speak of me as they have of Count: That I will be missed, but alive in a garden of fertile, happy memories in the minds of those I loved.

None of us knows how many days we have.
But I believe in the wisdom in a saying someone passed down to me:
In life, it is not what we do that we regret, but what we did not do.
What will you regret not having done?

Peace and love, Buzzards.
 

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It is smart to have fear on the river. Another word for it would be respect. I stopped Kayaking mainly do to the fact I was never that great and I did not need another sport I could not do with my wife and now kids. Both of my kids started rafting with me at 2.5 years old. They are now nearly 4 and 6 and love the river. I will take them down class II and maybe class III with nothing hazardous below. In my opinion the kid needs to be able to self rescue themselves in class II before you move onto class III. The raft is just fine now but I did just get a ducky and can't wait to try it out with the family. Both of my kids will have zero memories before they made turns on the ski hill or hit some rapids on the river. I believe this to be one of the best gifts I have given them. Not to be warm and fuzzy but seeing them hit runs with me is just as fun as the deepest of powder days.....
 

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You are who you are and that's all you have to share with the people that you love. If your passions are kayaking, whitewater and skiing, then your kids are fortunate. There are lots of kids out there with parents whose only passions are TV and fast food.
 

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You are who you are and that's all you have to share with the people that you love. If your passions are kayaking, whitewater and skiing, then your kids are fortunate. There are lots of kids out there with parents whose only passions are TV and fast food.
AMEN to that!

Teaching them love and respect for the outdoors is something they will cherish long after you are gone...and something they will hopefully pass down to their children as well.
 

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My dad taught me to kayak and we actually ran some full-on class V together while I was in college. I'm forever grateful that he introduced me to the sport and we had some incredible adventures together. Teach your kids to be safe on the river but don't try to hide them from the risks of whitewater. When I think back to high school I did way more dangerous/stupid shit behind the wheel of a car than in my kayak.

Derk's accident is heart-breaking and terrible but we need to remember it was an accident. That drop was WELL within his skillset and it was just some terrible luck.

We lost Daniel DeLaVergne, Charlie Beavers, Russell Kelly, Damon Miller and tons of other talented, bold kayakers to non-kayaking accidents. Accidents happen on the river and they also happen elsewhere.
 

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Worth it???

A question I've been pondering for quite some time. I've had my share of V and a few V+....but after last season (where I was boating V most of my weekends), I started to think about whether it was really worth it. For me....I was SOOOO gripped and contemplating "what if's" to the point that nailing my lines (which I usually did) didn't really provide the satisfaction to make it worth it.......most of the time anyway.

And then I swim this year for the first time in 12 seasons on OBJ and get recirc'd (The biggin').....with my wife of ONE WEEK watching from the sidelines. Inevitably the "what ifs" came pouring into my head.

I'm very confident I can find ample pleasure and excitement running IV+ with the occassional V-.

I SOOOOOOO badly want to share all of my adventures with my wife and our future kids. My wife's a boater too (III+/IV-) and sharing the river with her is a dream come true. The "worth it" question (when it comes to V/V+) is a big one for me lately.
 

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no one can answer that question, but it is surely a worthy topic of conversation in the wake of this tragedy and anytime someone dies doing an activity like kayaking.

I'll never forget a Big South trip that I took while my wife was pregnant with my son in the summer of 2001. My good friend and paddling mentor PT told me as I was putting in above Cool World, "just wait, this game will change for you once that kid comes along" and it has. I find other ways to be on the river and I love paddling as much as I ever have, I just don't want to paddle hard creeks anymore.

As far as my kids....I have already introduced both my kids to paddling and if they love it as much as I do, they will have every opportunity to enjoy it that I can provide. Someday they will have to make a personal decision about boundaries just like I did and hopefully I will equip them well to make that decision.

Shit I worry all the time about my family...driving cars, drugs, alcohol all of those sorts of hazards scare me way more than the river. Hopefully paddling is part of the solution to some of those more standard pitfalls.

Be safe. I hope Derk's friends and family find peace in the weeks and months to come. Sounds like he will not be forgotten around these parts.
 

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I had this conversation with my Wife yesterday while floating the Ark. She's anxious to get the kids on the water (age 4 and 6), and I'm just anxious. While I'd love get them on the water this year, I want to wait until they can swim a little better. I also need a little bit bigger boat..

Ya know what scares me? If anything happened to them I wouldn't be able to live with myself.
 

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I had this conversation with my Wife yesterday while floating the Ark. She's anxious to get the kids on the water (age 4 and 6), and I'm just anxious. While I'd love get them on the water this year, I want to wait until they can swim a little better. I also need a little bit bigger boat..

Ya know what scares me? If anything happened to them I wouldn't be able to live with myself.
I'm not sure what boat you have, but I was taking my kids from age two on down the Upper CO from Pumphouse to Rancho...there's some fun water, nothing to difficult, and some fun places to camp.

Have fun!

Bill
 

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This question always seems to come up on the heels of tragedy and rightly so.
I cannot speak as a family man as I do not have a wife and children to go home to, someday maybe, but I sure as hell do not want to leave those that I love dearly brokenhearted and aching.
But is it worth it? I think so, the river is the most amazing place on earth no matter where it is, the experience is unmatched and nothing else comes close.
A friend of mine and myself were talking last year after running a heavily trafficked class V run when we started talking about our friend who had died kayaking a couple years ago. We asked, would he still want us paddling the hard stuff? We paused and thought about it, and the answer was a unanimous HELL YEAH.
I think that those who we have lost to the river want us to keep paddling, keep pushing ourselves and getting after it, they did not get the chance, so it is our duty to fire it up even harder. I know my opinion may change over time as my life evolves, but until then I will paddle even harder and have as much fun as I can while I am out there.
My deepest sympathies to those who have lost their loved ones now and times past, but as those of us left behind we need to keep charging and live the lives we are so fortunate to experience
 

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The game does change. The great thing is, that's not bad. Kids change how we do lots of things. Just one step in our adulthood

Our kids have been on the water since they were 2 (now 15 and 12). We choose our boating partners, rivers, trips and flows carefully. We would rather have our kids being kids on the San Juan for a week than too scared because of a big swim or flip to ever go again. Frankly, the same holds for me.

They will have lots of time to do BIG water and take more risks after gleaning decision making skills from us and those who are wise on the water. Whether self rescue skills are critical to those decisions....accidents happen. Self rescue will help but may not make a difference.

We want to have our kids love the river as much as we do. Its far better to boat as a family (yes even with teens) than to not know what they are doing or thinking. Having a respect for the water, canyons, and other boaters is what is important.

Its ok to say, class IIIs and IIs are exciting. We want to boat for a really long time, we want to be relaxed and have a great time, we want to be with our kids and want them to be with us.

Our kids can decide what's cool later on. Right now we are "cool" and our kids are already planning our next year's trip down the San Juan and Deso. I think that's what is important.

Having just gotten off the San Juan over Solstice and seeing 10 kids (ages 9-15) in IKs and paddling the rafts, packing boats, setting camp, scouting "rapids", was wonderful. They saw us being kids also. They shared the river with us, talked with us, and we let them be kids.

Better than stressed about the swim or flip.
 

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I'm starting to think it's not worth it for me anymore. Between having two small kids and starting my own business, I didn't have time to get in Class V shape this year and haven't even touched my creekboat. I spent this whole season trying to learn how to cartwheel (finally), playboating the Ark at high water (which I have always missed because I was always chasing micro creeks around the state) and shredding with my wife. I definitely had more fun doing that than I would have had creekboating. For me the appeal of kayaking has always been about pushing my limits and running something new. Well, now that I'm at the point that pushing my limits means pushing them into areas with deadly consequences, I'm not too interested in it anymore, especially with two small kids. And taking a step back and running my old Class V runs while walking the tough drops that I used to run just doesn't excite me. Luckily for me, there are all kinds of ways to enjoy the river that I haven't tried yet and ways that I can enjoy it with my kids. The Gorge at 4G's is a playboat an absolute low-stress blast. Taking your 9 mo old in a raft and your 2 yr old in a shredder down filter plant for their first river trip is a blast. And I'm looking forward to learning how to raft.

I came to the same point with skiing a year or so ago. I was at the point where pushing my limits simply meant going bigger and faster. That's fine if you live in Utah or Whistler, but in Colorado snowpack, that simply adds up to more and more pain. So now I'm teleing, and pushing myself on runs that I use to staightline on alpines and having a great time doing it.
 

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Derk's accident is heart-breaking and terrible but we need to remember it was an accident. That drop was WELL within his skillset and it was just some terrible luck.

We lost Daniel DeLaVergne, Charlie Beavers, Russell Kelly, Damon Miller and tons of other talented, bold kayakers to non-kayaking accidents. Accidents happen on the river and they also happen elsewhere.
I have to agree here. I started kayaking with my father at the age of 12. It's a sport like no other, and it has shaped me into who I have become today.
 

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My fiance and I had this same conversation on Saturday night. We hiked into King Solomon Falls in north routt and witnessed a young woman (unknown to us) make the decisions that lead to her ultimately jumping a 65 foot cliff into the pool below. All the decisions we witnessed, our and her friends shouts and hand signals to not jump and then the jump... ending in a back flop into a 40 foot deep pool where our brave and amazing friend pulled her from, into the hands of two EMT trained onlookers (the luck!) and we wait to hear some public news of her status. It took 22 people and 4 hours to get her out of the ravene on a back board. I heard yesterday that her Dad is a member of S&R (don't know that for sure).
That night we talked about how that girl's life will change forever after her choice. We talked about unnecessary risks and our love of river-running, the pact that we made while we had our long distance relationship to drive the speed limit the 500 miles between us... having kids, getting older, realizing the risks... it is all so present when you live the good life. I feel lucky that we see eye to eye on our lifestyles (even though I saw him consider that cliff jump in the back of his mind before this girl ever stepped up, mouthing "NO" from across the pool at the same moment).

Finally, DoubleT, Charlie Beavers was one of my best friends for many years growing up. He was a trip. Charlie wore a dress at our 8th grade graduation- red f-ing polka dot. miss him often as the years pass. RIP all good people who have passed before us. Be safe and sound in all facets of your lives. Big love.
 

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Priorities change how we do the things we love and who we love.
With young children skiing is about runny noses and snacks and missing the steeps and deeps. As the kids get older, skiing all day returns, just different. I still ski in goggles that need to be replaced.

Understanding selflessness is key. You are their world and they need to be yours.

Finding balance is the call. Talking with your spouse as you float all day is wonderful, having kids fall asleep on your lap on the raft is amazing, getting away from your daily life is important.

However, it is not necessarily easier. Being exhausted is ok and it gets less tiring. It is alot of work to take kids skiing and rafting and hiking and biking. Start slow. Two hours on a raft for a little one is plenty. Flat water is OK. Paved trails acceptable. IT is not your exercise time or adrenaline rush here. Lots of snacks and books help!!

Finding what both you and your spouse enjoy doing together is key and then how you can enjoy sharing that with your children.

kindness to yourself
 

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Here I sit with a decent skillset but a screwed up head. We just had a baby the day before I decided to go run Esca this year. That was me upside down in the gorge and it hasn't gotten any easier since...

Now I get a feeling of relief when I stomp a big one, not exhilaration. That my friends is NOT WORTH IT.

I will continue to be humble till the day returns that I will get seriously pumped about sticking that line again. I can say teaching others to kayak helps a lot cause it slows my own pace to a manageable risk (Durango cold ass playpark instead of Embudo HOT)

Ohh, and little boy Orin cannot come out to play, his ass is grounded so don't even call.
 

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I, too have often wondered if all the things I do are stupid, and if I was just pushing my luck. But then I think what a waste my life would be if I just stayed home and ended up dying of cancer, or got killed in a car wreck on the way to a desk job. It happens. I figure I will just weigh the risks and try to do it all as safe as possible. Even with the right routes, planning, people, and gear, I know there is no guarantee. Still, I would rather live life and go out doing what I love than sit back and wait for life to pass by.
 
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