First Season (year): 1998
Favorite Class: IV
Favorite Runs: The river I am on at the time
Updated October 1, 2009
Lost all the formatting of my previous page. Lost the HTML code written in the page
Several years ago my father asked my brother what he wanted for Christmas. My brother, being the person he is, asked for a kayak. My father thought that was a good idea, and asked if I wanted one as well. Being the person that I was at the time, I said no. Eventually, with a little bit of thought (and having my original "gift" rejected) I started looking into C-1's. At the time (as is the case today) there were very few to choose from. I ultimately decided on the Dagger Atom C-1. For getting me involved in this sport, it served it's use, but looking back today, I should have shopped around a little more at the time.
My boat arrived in the spring, and I promptly took it back to school with me.
At the time I had no idea what kayaking was about (I had seen kayaks, and even been in a few, but didn't know a thing about how to roll). My school offered an open pool to kayakers one time a week. The first week I had my boat, I showed up to the pool to try and learn the C-1 roll. I was embarrassed (and I don't know why) and did not ask for any help from the two people at the roll session. I hopped into the water, not knowing how to do a wet exit, or how to roll, and started paddling around. Within one minute of being in the water, I was upside down, and no clue what to do. One of the guys at the pool session picked me up, and treated me very well. Within another 5 min, I was upside down again. I swam out of my boat, and worked up enough nerve to ask for help. Over the next several weeks I finally learned how to roll my boat, but it was not an easy thing for me.
That summer I spent my time on a local class II river, and gained a bomb-proof roll. I felt good, and enjoyed my time on the water (3 to 4 times a week). At the end of the summer I had the opportunity to paddle the New River Gorge in WV. My mentor at the time thought I was ready for it (even though he had never run the NRG at the time) and our guide thought I would do okay. I joined the group, and I floated the NRG (can't really say I "ran" it).
At the time the largest water I had seen was class II, and suddenly I was in "class IV" water. The first couple of rapids I did reasonable, but then the volume of the river, and the size of the drops got to my head. I would start a rapid with some confidence, but after the first or second wave, I had lost every shred of confidence I might have had. I ended up underwater through most of the rapids on the NRG, but I didn't swim once. When I was above the water, I didn't have much confidence, but as soon as I was under-water, I only had to think about my roll, and I had all the confidence in the world (even if it did take several tries to roll). By the end of the day, after nearly getting run over by a raft in Double Z, counting nearly all the fish in the river, and having run the hardest river up till then, I was thrilled with my accomplishment. I wasn't stupid enough to want to run it again anytime soon (I had learned my lesson) but I did recognize that my skill set was reasonable enough to survive such a river. I learned, and I gained confidence with that run.
Since that time I have moved away from Virginia (that is where I was going to school at the time) and have had less time on the water than I would like. I still get out on a regular basis, but it is nothing like the 3-4 times a week I had in Virginia. I now regularly run the NRG, and consider it one of my "local" runs. Time has moved on, and I have learned along the way. Some of my learning has come as a result of grave mistakes, while some has come from lots of practice. I have a group that I paddle with when I get a chance (actually more like several groups), and I try to stay in shape for my time on the water.
What is kinda funny about the whole thing, my brother still doesn't know how to roll a kayak. I have become a reasonable boater, and he doesn't use his boat at all. Since the purchase of my first boat, I have now gone through 3 "new" boats. Life is intersting sometimes.
All things considered, I am a pretty average paddler, with some non-average tenancies. I am an avid reader (usually in the middle of 3-4 books at any one time), I don't drink much, and I live a clean lifestyle. I enjoy what limited time I have on the water, and I am willing to paddle class II rivers, just so long as I can be in my kayak. I prefer to push my limits when I get a chance, but the river does not have to be challenging for me to have a good time. Take care, and thank you for your time.
Below are links to rivers, and websites I find useful. Use them if you wish, or ignore them.