Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Summer of Paddling

Time lapse photo of myself "looping" credit: Nora Whitmore

Paddling this summer I would describe as an evolution. So in July I was able to run the St. Louis river down to the swinging bridge which is always exciting endeavor, but had become more and more familiar to me. By mid July the drought had fully set in, the weather was hot with lot's of sunshine but some water needed to fall from the sky.... desperately. The paddling thereby literally dried up except.... during a Wausau Whitewater Park release. So it came to be that I drove Wausau and got to work on some playboating.

Wausau improved my boating dramatically, by giving an opportunity working on a lot of the fundamentals of paddling that playboating demands. Most memorable was the Midwest Freestyle Championships. My intention was to just gets some paddling in and to avoid any competition. But after some encouragement, and a good sunny day in the park with a awesome borrowed Jackson All star boat under me (courtesy of the Schroeter family!), I caved and signed up for the competition. I awoke the next day to a cold dreary day. Before long I was up to paddle in the competition. To all non-paddlers, the way a freestyle comp works is that you get a set amount of time to jump in the play feature and throw down your sickest moves in your bag of tricks...(which isn't all the big for me). So there I am trying hard to not look like a fool, and would maybe pull off a spin before getting flushed. So with 9 sec left on the clock I jump in the hole to go big with the only respectable trick I can really attempt...a loop (AKA front flip). So I dive the bow, whip my weight forwards.... there's a moment of disorientation, but seconds later I find myself upright with some noise from the crowd....apparently I pulled it off!

kudos to Nora Whitmore for this shot of me looping this summer

The remainder of the day I had a smile as I shivered all day in the 55 degree temps and constant drizzle in wet paddling clothes and watched the rest of the comp. That night after an evening with friends, to my shock... I learned I had made the final round of competition and would have to be up early in the morning to go through another round. In the comp I pulled off another loop.... it was good to see some consistency in boating. I ended up buying the Jackson All Star a week later, I guess it got me hooked.

Aside from Wausau there was also water to be flowing in Canada. So myself, Roger Peka, and John went up to Thunder Bay to hit up Crooked Rapids and some wave play action. It was my first experience on a bigger river wave...check out the You-tube video (I'll be providing better quaility soon). We also met a local named Peter who nice enough to bring us to the scenery of the Falls on the Dog river and later took us down for a run on the Kam.

Falls on the Dog River

The summer built my experience and changed my paddling... I miss the the days of feeling so tired I can only sit, stare into a fire, and fall asleep to the sound of a river!