Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friggatriskaidekaphobia - Part 1

So the word friggatriskaidekaphobia means fear of Friday the 13th.
I assure I do not suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia especially when my Friday the 13th was an amazing adventure!

My Friday the 13th was marking my first whitewater kayaking experience outside of First Descents. Don't get me wrong it was helped along by FD because they had a kayaking camp there this summer and one of my camp directors Patch was there. So he was nice enough to get me in touch with one of the guides that helped them that week. Clutch is one awesome guy, he was so nice and offered to take me kayaking and even supply all the gear. So we picked a day and it turned out to be Friday the 13th!

Clutch works for Zoar Outdoor in Charlemont, MA. So we met there and got all setup to go. I was so excited because he set me up in this...

 A Jackson Karma! I LOVE this boat! It was a perfect fit (once I moved the foot braces forward). I could not wait to hit the water in this. He also got me a helmet, skirt and paddle. I already had my PFD so I was all set there. We loaded all the gear and head out to run shuttle and start our day.

Another friend of Clutch's Alex was also joining us. He was just as nice and supportive as Clutch!

So I asked Clutch what I should do if I flip since I have not learned to roll yet. Cause I am good at hanging out under the water but if I'm not supposed to then I can easily wetexit as well. He said just go for the wet exit and get myself to the shore with my stuff. It was good I asked because at least now I knew I needed to do it myself.

This was a totally different feeling then being with FD. It is hard to explain but when kayaking with First Descents there is this almost unspoken sense of trust and an underlying safety net. Being out on the river today I still have the trust, I knew Clutch would help me out if needed but that safety net of being taken care of was not there. I needed to be able to do it myself which was a good thing because let's be honest if I am going to really get into kayaking I am going to have to do it myself so I appreciated that. I was independent for everything, I was responsible for the kayak and all my gear. If it needed to get to the put in then I needed to get it there and vice versa. Boy let me tell you I learned how heavy that boat was real quick! I have the bruises on my shoulders from carrying it to prove it.

Clutch explained what the river would be like. Firstly that we would be starting with a rapid right off the bat.

I was thrilled to get started. Clutch, Alex and I started down the river and made it through the rapid. But this particular spot is great for surfing and play boating. So Alex and Clutch went after it.
Clutch told me that this would be a good spot to practice surfing or ferrying across the river. I had trouble mainly because as you see in the picture there was a rafting group (4 rafts) right where we were. I am not comfortable enough maneuvering to do that around larger boats. So I opted to just watch them. Oh I also didn't need an audience for when I flip over cause I am not very good at ferrying. Although that clearly meant I should have been practicing, next time get a little further outside my comfort zone.

There were some really good rapids down the rest of the river. I will say that being the one who is the most inexperienced I was not the first one to swim!! But don't worry I flipped and swam shortly after that. Luckily it was in a rapid and not my usual spots of calmer water getting flipped by a swirly.

I learned very quickly that I needed to take care of myself. So after I wet exited I made sure to have my paddle and grabbed on to my boat. Got myself to shore after hitting my legs a few times on the GIANT rocks or in that case I guess would considered boulders. I climbed out, got my kayak out and emptied and got back on the water.

The rest of the run was lots of fun with rapids and calm water inbetween. We got to the spot right before the rapid named Zoar Gap. We got out and walked over to go scout out the rapid. This is what I saw...
To say that I was nervous would be an understatement but when Clutch asked if I thought I was going to do it there was no hesitation when I said yes! He smiled and said, "I thought you would say that." We headed back to our boats and got ready. Ironically enough as we were walking Alex said, "I don't think I have made it through the gap without rolling." That made me feel so confident. But I was looking forward to it anyway.

Clutch lead the way and I followed. I was doing fairly well until about 3/4 of the way through and I got swept by two currents and flipped over. I knew I need to wet exit quick and get to shore because there was another rapid not that much further down. Clutch got my boat for me and help carry to shore. Went through the motions and got myself all set up again. I peeled out of the eddy thinking I was cleared and guess what I wasn't so the eddy line flipped me again within probably about 20 seconds of the getting back on the water.

Once I got myself back in the boat after a few more bumps, bruises and scratches I was good to go. I made it through the last rapid. But I was able to do an amazing boof right over a pretty big rock and that was so FUN! 

The red circle it where I boofed. The whole boat was basically under water where you can see the all white water.
Then we headed to the take out.

This is a short video of the Zoar Gap just to show what I paddled through.

I was so excited to have been able to paddle my first river with very few swims considering what it could have been. I feel even more confident that I can actually develop the skills I want to. Thanks again to Clutch for taking me down the river and making it a great and successful day!

Bruises and scrapes but so worth it!
Left leg bruises and scrapes
Right leg bruises and scrapes

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