Whitewater kayaking is the most fun adventure sport ever! It’s also one of the most family friendly sports. Entire families can paddle rivers together, taking it as easy as they wish, enjoying nature in it’s most beautiful and natural state OR going full throttle down Class V rapids. There is nothing like paddling together as a family, experiencing the same emotions, the same triumphs. It brings families closer together and teaches them to rely on each other. Kayaking also has a profound way of teaching you of who you are, of forcing you to dig deep in order to succeed.
If you’ve never stepped foot in a kayak, you should remedy that fact immediately. However, I feel obligated to warn you that it will change your life forever. Forever.
Prior to 2005, we didn’t even know kayaking was a thing. And, even after we saw some people on the Colorado River in kayaks, we’d didn’t actually start paddling until 2010!!
We now think of everything as before kayaking and after kayaking.
Before kayaking we played every sport imaginable. Football, hockey, soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball. We coached every sport too. We ran ourselves and our kids ragged all in the name of parenting.
After kayaking, our sports are seasonal. We are avid snowboarders. We climb and cave. We SUP, we raft, we longboard and BMX … we do things that we can all do together. Instead of standing on the sidelines or in the bleachers, we are in the game with our kids. It’s badass.
After kayaking, we homeschool because we want our kids to be with us and learn from us.
After kayaking, we bought an RV, first to travel to kayaking events and then decided to live in it so we could paddle the US and Canada.
After kayaking, we understand the true meaning of strength and bravery.
You see, kayaking forces us to always reassess our inner being. We push ourselves to our individual limits, we test our skills, we test our bravery.
Man, kayaking is a mental game, unlike any other. Do you have what it takes to control your mind and fight through the fear? Some days I do, some days I don’t. It’s definitely something I’m working on.
Even learning to roll was scary. You don’t think it will be, you watch others do it and think, “I got this.” Then you get in a boat, all the way in a boat. Ok, you think, still cool. But then you have to flip over. Game Changer.
I look at these kids of mine who are charging it, who are handling their fear and their nerves and owning it. I am proud. They know themselves, they know their strengths, they know what they are capable of.
They are participating in a sport…not only participating, but excelling in a sport…that adults struggle with and they only play part-time. They are tough mentally and physically.
It’s amazing to look at how far they have come. I remember reading in a book all about this river run, Lake Creek and then seeing it for the first time. We thought it was sure death. Like, only crazy amazing kayakers, like Eric Jackson and the likes of him could paddle that.
Just this past weekend, Grady and some friends ran it.
Another example … The Green River in North Carolina is another one of those rivers that you just don’t run unless you possess serious skills. It’s not a beater river. I remember hearing them start talking about the Green a few years ago. Specifically a rapid called “Gorilla”. They described it as “insane”. Last year Grady and Brody ran it.
And now, the next group of paddlers are coming up. Kady has pushed past her fear and is running Steep Creek Races. Kenny and Dally have run rivers that I can’t even begin to think about. Even Cardy now has the mentality of a paddler. Instead of the dread that is common in the early stages, he now has the excitement and thrill … you can see it by how quickly he gets ready, you can see it in his eyes, you can see it in the way he paddles.
And, this year it’s all about Maddy and Rowdy and … me. I’ve been paddling for 4 years, but every year I’ve been pregnant and/or nursing a baby. For me, this meant very limited paddling, a river here, a river there. A surf here, a surf there. So, I think of this year as my year. Maddy, Rowdy and I, charging it together. Tackling our fears together, progressing together.
How magical is that?
It’s like snowboarding except with adrenaline. I don’t care how fast I’m going or how steep the run, snowboarding doesn’t give me half the rush kayaking does. I’m simply not scared of speed. It also doesn’t give me half the satisfaction after completion because of the lack of fear. Don’t get me wrong, I love snowboarding, there is nothing that quite compares to carving down a mountain on 12” of champagne powder … it’s the equivalent of flying.
But, I also love kayaking.
You know what it is? I love the seasons. Each season brings with it the promise of change. And change is the spice of life. It’s what keeps us traveling. It’s what keeps us up late at night and what makes us rise in the am. There aren’t enough minutes in a day to do all the things we want to do. And so we do what we want to do most today and hope for a tomorrow.
That’s the best we can do. And it’s the best thing EVER!