Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Trip Journal -- Day Five

13 Oct. 2004

Just got back from the loveliest paddle (that's apparently what you call a kayaking session).  We're at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia.  At first, the only options were a 3-hour paddle, a 2-hour paddle, and a walk through Sacajewea State Park -- but I raised my hand and asked for another "one-hour wussy paddle" -- which was granted due to popular demand.  i.e. six of us.

This time, I was with Jack -- an older fellow who don't hear too good -- at least, not from behind.  His hands shake, like from Parkinson's, so I steered.  I'd been a little concerned about going out with him, but he had an easy, measured stroke and we ended up kayaking very smoothly.  We were probably the best team of the three on the water, as I was able to keep in perfect synch with him.

Chris, our guide, even gave us some tips -- showing us some new strokes (even stuff that works without the rudder).  Even something as simple as paddling in really shallow water -- we were hugging the shore and it was awful rocky and muddy under the water.  We kept getting mud on our paddles and going to deeper water, but Chris went right through the shallow bit.  When I asked him, he said the kayak can run in 3 inches of water (4 with the rudder) and he just uses a shallower stroke to keep the paddles clear.  And I was all, duh!  shallow stroke!  Why didn't I think of that?

He also taught us how to turn the kayak real sharp - by extending the paddle and doing a real long stroke.  Yes, I know, all of this should have been intuitive, but with the "idiot-proof" kayaking, we'd just been taught to plant our hands on the paddle and keep doing that one forward stroke.  Chris got us thinking about varying it to bring about different results.  Way fun.

Scenery was also lovely -- paddling on two rivers and all.  There was actually greenery -- a marked change from the dry landscape of yesterday.  This was more like how I'd expected the Columbia to be.

Also, when kayaking, I shared some baseball scores (thanks to AT&T Wireless mMode).  The other two boats were interested in what was happening, so we were paddling along talking baseball.  Later, I realized it was the first time I'd been out there kayaking without concentrating on the kayaking.  Jack set this great pace I could follow with my eyes closed, so my body went on autopilot and it freed my mind up for recalling the scores I'd read.  A small step, but a far cry from the "showtune cruise" from two days ago, where I was all about finding a rhythm to support the paddling.  Next up:  walking and chewing gum at the same time.

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