Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Philosophical ranting about kayaking...

I have been paddling for close to two weeks. So I find myself staring at the computer screen and all that is on my mind is the experiences I have had on the river. I went up to Mount Robson to paddle with friends in between teaching kayaking courses. The most powerful experience on that little adventure was getting out of my boat and swimming out of a very powerful recirculating wave in a class IV rapid. I won't bore any non-paddlers with lengthy descriptions of kayak related technicalities, but suffice to say that while swimming is something beginners do frequently, it is a big deal when I pull the chute and get out of my boat while upside down. Last year I hit a log in the river and went upside down and under it. I panicked and literally walked out of my boat. That was the first time I swam in over 7 years.
I am a big proponent of approaching these adventure activities with a certain amount of philosophy. There are life lessons to be learned from the experiences you can have on rivers and in the mountains. But if you don't reflect on your experiences, the lessons and deeper meanings will be lost. All the remains is the thrill, the adrenalin rush and the excitement of taking risks. But that, is hardly deserving of the amount of risk we often take when we engage in adventure activities.
Tomorrow we'll give a lecture to our students about progressing as a paddler with a degree of care. We'll urge them to not rush the progression and push the white water grades too quickly and instead enjoy the journey, take smart risks and reflect on their experiences. Hopefully we are able to plant some seeds.


  1. Do you know Tim Parks's novel "The Rapids"? All about kayaking (and lots of other things, too).

  2. No, I haven't red it... Yet! Thanks for the recommendation!