Monday, September 06, 2010
OC1... My First River Run with Montana
This summer I must admit the canoe didn't come out much. I took it to Wausau and did a tiny bit of practice at the bottom of the course but nothing much. I did some outfitting the day before on my boat and a quick flatwater paddle to see how it fit...ready or not. Today Alan Faust was going to take me down my first river. I considered myself very lucky to be able to learn from him. He has the ability to inspire you to be the best you can be.
We first worked on basics in the flatwater. My worries about today centered in thinking that my legs wouldn't be able to take the kneeling on an extended basis. My other fear was swimming....funny! I felt like a newbie again. My thoughts drifted to when I took my friend Joi for her first run down to First Wave. I knew exactly how she felt that day.
Entering the first riffles it felt good. I eddied out just fine behind a large rock and then it was on to First Wave...the first rapid on the St Louis. Easy swim if you crash and burn. My river skills and kayaking skills easily crossed over and we styled it down. We did more work on turning and edging as we made our way down to Two Hole. At this level on the St Louis I knew the rocks were going to come into play more the further down the river we went making it more technical. I really am a fan of more water. Things went fine and I had my first feel of maneuvering my boat. The Canyon was next. Now here Alan changed things up. I have run the Louis many times and I usually pick the same lines down. Alan knows this and he had me do things very different. Catch the eddy on the left and then a long ferry back to right, turn and follow him down. All through more rocks. Again it challenged my skill and it did go very well. Same again with Hidden Hole.
We came to Electric Ledge at the same time the rafts were running it. We watched hoping for a little carnage but not to be had. Alan had me portage and he styled it down with his signature move. Then we were at the last long rapid called Little Kahuna or Rescue Rapids. At this level it would be a technical and pick your way down carefully or broach rapid. I figured this to be my most likely swim of the day. Towards the bottom it got tight but I was very happy with how Montana edged and glided around the rocks and down. Smooth! Very smooth!
I learned some very good lessons today. One being your anxieties are for the most part useless. With several stretch breaks my legs did just fine in my canoe. The vision I had of pulling out at First Wave with unbearable cramps didn't happen. Swimming didn't happen also which was good but I know it's coming and I know I swim very well.
Will I give up kayaking to go OC1? No. I look at it as another aspect of enjoying the river. I am definitely going to keep open boating. It has a graceful feel to it that talks to a part of me.