Saturday, August 03, 2002


I thought I should put in a post about my early paddling days. I can't say there's anything all that exciting to report. After spending some time hiking on the Potomac in the summer of 2002 I decided i wanted to try paddling. It was early August. At the time I didn't have particularly high aspirations. I wanted to get out on the water and was content to just start by getting a rec boat and paddle some flatwater. I’d never so much as held a paddle in my hands, let alone sat in a kayak. When I went out shopping however I found that HTO had a pretty good deal on whitewater Perception boats. They were only slightly more expensive than the rec boats. They had various boats to choose from and as I didn’t have a clue what to get I decided that I’d be more comfortable with something fairly high volume. After some more looking around I decided on the Java. The “little” boats looked scary. I was told it was a creek boat. I had no idea what that meant. I went to pick it up: boat, paddle, helmet, pfd, flotation, throw rope, and $1200 later and I was ready to go.

I laid it all out in my living room. It was funny. I had no idea if I’d even remotely like it. But I was determined to give it a try. The next day I went out with a friend and we headed to Angler’s. Man I was so out of shape back then. I could barely carry the thing down to the water, it felt like it weighed a ton. After paddling around a bit and getting my first swim I was hooked (despite having made the classic newbie mistake of not leaving my grab loop out). We signed up for a roll class with Calleva. It took me a couple of weeks to get my roll. I spent lots of time at Angler’s or at a lake near where I lived attempting and failing.

One day I ran into Josh and Suzi at Angler’s. Later on Josh ended helping me get my roll. After that I had no problems and practiced as much as I could. I continued paddling through October. Unfortunately that summer there was a pretty bad drought and there wasn’t too much for me to learn on. I spent most of my time attaining (and carrying when needed) up the gorge and practicing rolling in flat water (as there really wasn't much moving water to speak of anyway). I remember how ridiculously tall the walls around S-Turn seemed (it was possible to easily paddle up to where S-Turn hole normally forms). When winter came along I had to stop. I didn’t have any winter gear and really didn’t know anyone to paddle with. I looked forward to getting back on the water the following summer…

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