Friday, June 19, 2015

Palmer Rapids Reflection

Palmer Rapids Reflection
Before the trip
I had a little experience with white water before. I once went on a trip with my family and we decided to try white water kayaking, it was just a one day trip, no skirt, no wet suit, pretty basic. The kayak’s were also not proper white water kayaks and were ones that you might expect to see at a cottage. However the rapids at the time seemed large and scary at the young age that I was, it was nothing compared to what I saw here. I had no idea what to expect for this, and what a challenge this would be. As the trip approached I was equally excited as I was terrified; I knew from the start it was going to be an interesting trip.
Day 1
After the long bus ride and the endless rounds of president on the bus, we finally arrived at the campsite. The first thing that caught me off guard were the sheer size of these rapids, and how quickly we were going to be thrown into this unfamiliar territory. As soon as we got in I was fairly excited to get started, I wanted to try all the tactics we learnt in the real situation. The training from the river kicked in almost automatically, allowing us to get into the current and soar down it. That was our first problem, I knew that getting into this part of the rapid was going to be fairly challenging, what I didn’t even consider was how difficult it would be to get out of it. I was really excited for the following few days, where we would have the chance to try the larger rapid, and get a chance to swim the top one.
Day 2
As Spencer and I got more and more practice everything started to get more and more automatic, I could feel how things before that used to be challenging quickly became a walk in the park. However as soon as this confidence gets to your head, it starts to really slow your progress and hinder your skills. I was already tired from the lack of sleep of the night before, and the heat and uncomfort of the suit and shoes. So before lunch I quickly felt myself losing control over the canoe. I started thinking about all the actions I was doing instead of running them on automatic. This quickly became problematic and lead to me tipping on nearly every run. At this point I entered the rapid with the mentality that we were going to tip, and this of course led us to. As soon as I felt the imbalance I would switch into the mode that we were tipping and would push myself away from the canoe as far as possible and prepare for swimming. After lunch I started feeling better and got more comfortable about staying up. However this time my partner was quickly becoming exhausted and found himself in the same predicament that I was in. It was a bit of a mess, but fun none the less, I always like swimming. After the lower rapids I spent as much time as I could in the top rapids, jumping in and out, swimming down them, and playing around with the moving water. It’s the kind of thing that only a handful of people in the world will ever have the chance to try, and I wanted to capitalize on this opportunity.
Day 3
Spencer and I decided immediately that morning to take the rapid a little more seriously and really try not to tip as best as we could; and to my surprise it worked extremely well. We went down the rapid flawlessly and quickly, without problems. Although, I honestly enjoyed tipping over and swimming it a little more, but the sense of success and achievement when you made it all the way down still upright made it worth it. I felt everything come into play, the braces, the tilting, the adrenaline, the draws and prys; it was automatic and it felt amazing. I really felt like I was one with the boat and everything was intuitive, like riding a bike, it seemed to just hit me. We started taking the harder routes, and would try and hit the largest waves and take the biggest challenges, we wanted the full experience. This added more challenge and just made everything more worth it when you finished right side up, I was even happy that I got to experience getting stuck in a hole and was able to push my paddle deep to catch the undertow of the water. The last few runs really made me understand what the appeal to white water canoeing was, and why it has such a large following.

Off water
Luckily there isn’t much to say in this segment, the way I like it. No drama, no issues, just genuine fun and happiness between friends. I felt that everyone in the group was enjoying themselves and everyone was smart enough not to ruin it for others if they had a personal problem, I really like the group that way. Sadly the first night I didn’t get much sleep. I’m used to a much more quiet environment, and I found the constant sound of rushing water really ‘got to my head’, so much so that I had trouble ignoring it and just falling asleep. I also felt dizzy and waterlogged from all the swimming I had done, I woke up extremely early, just before sunrise. I found wood, started a fire, got into some comfier clothes, made some tea, and snacked on some food while carving my marshmallow stick. It was peaceful, and just as I was walking back into my tent Mr.Brouwer called breakfast and woke everyone up, I wasn’t too pleased about that much, but it happens. Other than that, the bugs, and the feeling of slight seasickness while lying down, the trip was perfect, and totally enjoyable. It’s a trip that I will soon miss and will jump at any opportunity to do something like it again. Just hanging out with a whole group of people that I loved, before we all leave our separate ways, was enough of a reward already, the rapids were just an extra and incredible bonus. What an incredible venture, stunning.

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