Tuesday, April 15, 2008

my love affair with kayaking

Well, I decided to take the Kayaking class through the Kinesiology department this semester. It was a White Water Kayaking class. It met once a week for two hours and was worth 1 credit. It might have costed sixty extra bucks or so. We started off in the Adair pool learning how to do Eskimo rescue, some turning techniques, and braces. At first, I would panic as soon as I got underwater, and couldn't master the Eskimo rescue. I went in for extra help and still wasn't getting it. We started going out on Lake Matoaka in late February, and started to learn how to go straight. It's not as easy as you think in kayaks made for white water. They are incredibly responsive, which is great for rapids, but not so great for the lake. I felt good about being out on the water, I mean, I've had quite a bit of kayaking experience. In late March we had one class in the pool to do Eskimo rolls. I went through a lot of the Eskimo rolling progression but then asked Randy (my instructor) to help me with Eskimo rescues instead. I knew I needed to get them down. And it finally clicked for me that day, and I felt really good about it. Last Friday, April 11, was the white water trip I went on. I was really scared the day before, but on that day I was mostly excited and just a bit nervous. It was a beautiful day: sunny, warm, a bit of a breeze. The water was cold but it felt refreshing. We were running the Appomattox River in Petersburg, VA. It has a canal that follows it for awhile, and we paddled up the canal until just below the old mill (where it stops). We took our kayaks over to the river side, and did some scouting. Randy showed us the best way to get through the first Class I rapids, and then we were to stop in a big eddy. I was nervous but after running those rapids I was just feeling good about it. After stopping we practiced ferrying across the river, and eddy turns and peel outs. We then went onto the first Class II rapid, called Z. My back end hit the rocks but that was okay... no harm done. We kept going along until the next Class II, called Picnic. On Picnic Randy said 'head left towards that flat rock, then cut right and stay in the middle and there's a surprise at the end.' When I went down, I got in the right place and found the surprise! Huge standing waves at the end! And it was a fast rapid. Lots of fun! We stopped at the island and sat on the rocks that made up the rapid and ate lunch. Then we kept going. There was one other cool Class II rapid called Snake Drop. It was basically just a steep drop, and the island where you stop is often covered in sunning snakes. It wasn't that day. Both Picnic and Snake Drop drenched me in water. It was so much fun. We had to carry our boats a quarter mile across an island at the end, but it was all good. Today there was an extra, optional rolling session. I went, and successfully did several Eskimo rolls! Sweet! Several people have commented on how graceful and natural I seem in a kayak. I attribute it to my riding experience. And I love it.

here I make a graceful entrance

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