Thursday, July 28, 2011
FD 70: Day 3, Swimming is My Middle Name
Wednesday brought a morning of running and ab work before another yummy breakfast. Afterwards, we all gathered in the living room where a real grizzly bear rug watched us from the wall, as we were schooled on hydrology, the science of water. There was a lot of knowledge thrown at us, and I caught a decent amount of it, but I was feeling tired and I'm not going to lie- curled up in an arm chair beneath my hooded sweatshirt I might have fallen asleep.
Somehow I don't think staying awake for the last few minutes of water school would have prepared me for what was about to happen. When we got to the river, the group gathered to scout a rapid by our put-in. I wasn't too freaked out at that point. I read the water using the terms and information I got in our lesson that morning, and I felt pretty confident when I got into my little lime green kayak.
I made it through that first rapid without anything eventful happening, but as we continued, the group I was boating with got choked up and we all went into the next rapid in a cluster. I found myself swirling and having difficulty keeping control and paddling as my boat bounced off the others around me.
Then I was upside-down. For the first time. In a rapid. It was dark, cold, and eerily silent. But a painfully long second later, my helmeted head burst through the surface and my numb hands were grabbing the metal loop on the back of a white kayak. I was okay.
It was a short trip to an eddy and as my boat was emptied of water, adrenaline pulsed through me, and all I felt was cold. I wasn't scared. It wasn't that bad. I got the swim out of the way, and now I could fearlessly paddle the rest of the river.
As I paddled on, more conscious of spacing now, I enjoyed the tall rock walls and mountainous scenery. What I didn't enjoy was the fact that it was not easy to see what was coming. The river carved a snake-like route, winding sharply to the left, then the right. A few minutes later, as I came into another rapid, I found myself adequately spaced, but I didn't really know where I was going. The water sucked me to the left, and I found myself in a wave train, flying over the top of large white caps, then dipping low, before I was tossed up again.
I'm not sure how it happened, but one moment I was up, and the next the water was on top of me and I was in that dark, frigid, silent place again. When I surfaced, I was disoriented, and faced upstream for a moment before realizing my back was to the current. I turned to face downstream like I was supposed to, and was again towed to shore by a guide. River:2, Marathon Girl: 0.
I was a bit more shaken now, and when the safety raft chauffeured me to where my boat was again being emptied, I wasn't sure I wanted to get out of the raft. Did I really want to get back in the kayak? Not really. At this rate, I'd spend equal parts of the day split between the boat and the forty-degree water.
But when it was truth time, I got back in the boat. I couldn't go in the raft. I wasn't in Montana to sit in a raft. Also, there was a phrase echoing in my head, as I've mentioned happens to me. That day it was Do the thing that scares you. So I did.
As we headed toward the next rapid, I freaked out, though. This wasn't a little freak out. It was a lot. I wanted out, but there aren't a whole lot of options as you go into a rapid, so I screamed "I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!" I imagined how the next few moments would go, and it involved being cold and wet and possibly stuck in a hole under water. Perhaps drowning.
And then there was the sound of plastic on plastic. Red collided with green and then there were hands. They held onto my boat. Finally, there were words, muffled by rushing water, "Hold on. We'll do it together."
I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding, and we drifted through the rapid together. Pleaza, the kayak guide who grabbed my boat, navigated both of us through the rapid into another eddy. Then I cried. Kayaking scares me. I know I am completely safe. I also am aware that I'm pretty capable when it comes to keeping a boat in a straight line and riding out a rapid. But something happened that day, and I lost it. I got tense, and being loose is a necessity in kayaking. But the worst part was that I lost my confidence. I spent the rest of the day on the water being mad at myself for being afraid, and trying not to cry or look as frustrated as I felt.
When we finally reached the take-out, I was relieved, but also hungry for more. I wanted to prove myself. I was angry and felt unsuccessful, and was equally disappointed in myself for even considering getting in the raft. Looking back, it doesn't seem so bad, but at the time, I was not a happy camper. Luckily, there were still two more days of camp for me to accomplish what I wanted to, and there was a fun on-land afternoon planned so I could take my mind off things.
To be continued...
Posted by Juli at 9:32 PM