Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kayaking the Verde: Day 1, Initiation

Right off the bat, I have to navigate a rapid.
I have never kayaked a river before, so it's no surprise that I get hung up on a boulder, turn sideways, and fill to the brim with water. The water is not that cold, but it is still a shock. I hop out and all my gear starts floating out of the kayak.  I frantically grab dry bags, rope, and water bottles as the river pushes and pulls on my pant legs.  As I  struggle to push my kayak upright, I see a black bag containing our tent poles slip away!

Wait, let me rephrase that first sentence...right off the bat, I have to navigate fast moving water.

Our Verde River Guide stated that we would encounter 13 rapids on our 42 mile trip.
We felt like we ran 13 rapids in the first 10 miles.
So either we don't know how to distinguish between a rapid and fast-flowing water, or there are significantly more rapids at low cfs (the river guide classifies rapids at 100 cfs, and we were on about 50 to start).

Oh, and by we, I mean Dean and I and my dear aunt and uncle, Jari and Anita.

Photo creds to Anita.  Read her account of the day here.

Where was I? Oh yes, 5 minutes in, I get tipped, soaked, and lose some gear.
What an initiation to river kayaking!
There is nothing to do but move on.

One minute later, "rapid" number two proves that I still haven't learned my lesson, as I get turned sideways on the rocks again. This time, I bail before I fill to the brim.

After that, I learned to point straight and paddle fast through the obstacle course of boulders. I found that I could twist and pivot my own body to help get my kayak around boulders I didn't have time to paddle around. And most importantly, I learned that the kayak spray skirt was made exactly for this kind of kayaking (in a hard sided kayak) and was worth the hassle to wear. Thank goodness I didn't leave it behind in my fear of getting flipped and stuck upside down!

We did have some yin to our yang.  There was as much calm, glassy water as there was rough. Sometimes the river looked like glass, reflecting our top halves, the cliffs and clouds, as well as huge startled birds taking flight.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.

After paddling the glassy waters, I started anticipating the sound of rapids.

I didn't know yet, however, just how dangerous the river could be.

Links to the rest of the posts in this series:
Day 1, Part 2: A Dunking
Day 2: Pushed to Our Limits
Day 3: Grand Finale

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