Friday, September 30, 2011
That's it. It's final. The last day of release on the Lower St Louis. There is no quality whitewater left in Minnesota at this time. Believe it or not, life doesn't end. It doesn't even have to slow down. Just keep charging forward taking the opportunities as they come. Search yourself and search out what you want. It's out there. Information is probably a click away.
Right now for me it's time to take a breather. I have a couple of ailments that just won't go away so a trip to the Dr. was in line this week. First off, my hand. Dr. looks at it and says you need to see the hand surgeon. "Would you like a mammogram with that" I say "What?" She says you're due for one so I say ok, why not.
Next I whine about my heel. I had stepped down on a sharp rock in soft booties and it's hurt now for five weeks. Dr says Plantar Fasciitis. Ibuprofen and ice. The nurse asks if I'd like a flu shot with that...am I at McDonalds???
Hand surgeon today looks at my finger and says I have trigger finger. He sticks me with some cortisone and says to give it three weeks. If there's no improvement then there's surgery that can be done. So all in all with an incredible amount of water that I paddled starting in late winter to just this last weekend two booboos at the end of the summer isn't bad. It's actually a good thing to let your body take a sabbatical from paddling. Letting your muscles rest and heal will only make them stronger.
But what the devil are you going to do in the meantime? You can only watch so much kayak porn before you go blind crazy. Plus how will you see those paddling friends. The ones you've shared your soul with on the rivers. Well now it's time to do all those other sports people have been saying are fun but you've ignored for so long because you couldn't see past your paddle. For me it starts with mountain biking.
For years some of my boating friends have been telling me to try it out. You'll love it! It is a lot like paddling. On the other hand I have seen many of them seriously injured from that sport and shied away. Until last fall. I caved and thought I'd just buy a cheap bike and give it a try. I found an old 1998 Specialized FSR for $200. Good enough for trying out the sport. Yes, it is just like boating...addictive. Fast pace mind and body...hit your line or hit a tree. Addictive! The adrenalin rush you were missing away from the rivers you can easily find on a single track trail. Plus the beauty of nature surrounds you and you're able to go where few others can. It's the perfect compliment to a paddling lifestyle. When it's dry and sunny the bike trails are fast! When it's wet and rainy you keep off the bike trails and head to the rivers. Yin and Yang..perfect balance.
Go rock climbing! Learn your knots. Work with ropes and beeners. All this not only gets you out with your paddling friends but it builds strength and stability. It teaches you how to work with ropes which is something you will need on creeks and rescues. Another mind and body sport in a beautiful natural environment.
What else has been on your list of things that catch your fancy? Personally I was actually caught in a hall in the YMCA after a weight workout. A friend I hadn't seen in awhile grabbed my arm and pulled me into a yoga class. In past years I've taken a few classes when I had time. Yoga builds strength and flexibility and for kayaking strength and flexibility are very important. Next class is Tuesday...I should be there. Really, I should!
OK what else besides surfing weather reports for weather that isn't there. Or hanging on Facebook and forums hoping someone has some secret whitewater location that will magically appear. For me it's a time to dream. Maybe South America this winter. What to do with my next seven days off. Where I could travel. How to make it happen. What new boats I want. Is that new gear? It's also a time to repair what you have. I look at my fleet and they have taken some abuse this season. Time to learn how to weld plastic. Fix my Thermarest. Get my gear washed and ready to go at the drop of a drop. Fall rains have always came. I can't remember never getting a good fall bump on the rivers. This lull is just that and should be used and enjoyed. The leaves are starting to turn. Even a flat water paddle down the Cannon or Kinnikinic river is a beautiful way to enjoy a day. It's also an easy enough float that all your non whitewater friends and family can enjoy.
They call this Indian Summer. Temperate days, chill nights. Colors an artist can only envie. Play hard at cross sporting. Try something new. Clean the house, knock off some projects. Winterize now because shortly...before you know it...it'll rain. And the rivers will run. And life will feel normal again.