Paddle in Pink was hacked a while back and that is why we have not had any recent posts. We have added a layer of security where this should not be an issue from here on out. Stay tuned for some updated posts as a lot has been going on this summer!
The highlight of my spring used to be the annual all-girl paddle on the Cheoah River that was part of North Carolina’s now defunct BoaterChick Festival. I met most of my current female paddling network at the Cheoah paddle and so it was an event that I could not let go when the BoaterChick Festival had run its course. This year I renamed the event the Double XX (two events for those with two X chromosomes) and set about to invite all the paddling chicas that I know.
On April 15th, 2016, 25 paddlers ranging in age from 14 to 50 launched on the Cheoah. The large group was split up into three smaller groups divided to evenly spread abilities and to maximize networking potential. When I was organizing the event, I was trepidatious that the paddlers would not want to split from their friends. On the contrary, all the participants were happy to meet and paddle with new friends. The best part of the Double XX is that the type of women who attend are willing to break out of their normal routine. My kind of people!
The paddle down the Cheoah was mostly uneventful. The front group did have to wait a bit for all the groups to gather at the put in for the more technical lower section of the Cheoah. Next year, I will have all groups just continue down the river and have dedicated front safety and dedicated sweep. Thank you all for your patience and I appreciate the honest feedback. After scouting Bear Creek Falls (A.K.A. ‘the big one’) with first timers, all groups safely completed the run.
Twelve girls then put their game face on and ran a ‘go fast’ lap of the last two miles of the river. This section is a gem of continuous Class IV whitewater that is a perfect race course. The official race is in October this year and this was a chance for the boaters to get some practice. A had a vision of a group of women throwing down on the Cheoah and it came true! I cannot wait to do it again next year.
After the go-fast lap, we gathered at the welcoming Tapoco Lodge for some delicious libations provided by Hi Wire Brewery and some spot-on prizes donated by Pyranha Kayaks (have you seen the 9R?), Sweet Protection, Astral Designs (have you tried their new sandals?), and Mountain Khakis. I want to thank Sarah Ruhlen of Catalyst Photography and Trinity for pictures and logistical support.
I also want to thank the group leaders, sweep, and safety volunteers, especially those who come on board year after year. The trip could not happen without all of us pulling together.
There was no fee or fund-raising associated with this event. The Double XX is a chance to connect the network of female boaters who enjoy Class IV (and V!) whitewater. To me, the Double XX is like getting married. Sure, it is a fun party, but the real payoff lasts for years and years. Are you working up to the Cheoah, but still want to network? Check out Anna Levesque’s Ladies Southeast Paddling Series. The series starts in May on the Tuckaseegee Gorge and ends up with a trip down the Lower Gauley in September. If you are a total badass, consider joining Laura Farrell’s Green River Takeover on August 27th, 2016. Contact Laura through her blog, Living the Liquid Lifestyle. If you want to attend the Cheoah Double XX next year, send me a message on Facebook or email me at email@example.com. I will make sure you get the information for the next event.
Stay tuned for information about Crystal Gustin and Katie Dean’s playboat/slicey boat day on the Pigeon River. This come-out-and-play day will be on July 9th. Get into your little boat and paddle until your arms fall off. We will have some great prizes, refreshments, outstanding coaching, and just a fun time gettin’ vertical.
We had watched the wind reports all week in anticipation of our upcoming Lake Superior Sea Caves kayaking adventure, located near Bayfield, WI. Lake Superior is the worlds largest fresh water lake with a surface area of 31,700 sq miles. It is 350 miles in length and 160 miles wide. Its depths can reach 1300 ft and water temperature average 40 degrees, even in the summer. Lake superior can be a dangerous lake with recorded waves of 40 ft, 350 recorded ship wrecks and fog that can set in within very little notice. This lake can also be calm and a place for exploring and adventure. The lake is clear with visibilities 27 to 100 ft. The apostle islands are a thing of beauty within themselves but this trip was to explore the sea caves near Meyers Beach.
Before you leave to kayak this lake I can not express enough check the wind and wave reports on a weather radio before you go. If the weather is not right do not go. There are hiking trails near the sea caves which may be a better choice if you feel uncomfortable. The kayak launch area is called Meyer Beach and is located a few miles west of Bayfield, WI. Take Hwy 13 to Meyer Rd to the parking area. Arrive early as the parking lot fills quickly. There is a ranger there so make sure you sign in and then sign out when you leave. With this lake’s water temperature wear a wet suit or dry suit no matter what the air temperature is. The weekend I was there it was hot and I stupidly did not wear a wet suit. When I think back on it now I definitely should have had one on. Have rescue equipment and know how to use it. We practiced numerous times on our area small lakes getting back into our boats with a paddle float. Also wear a kayak skirt. Most of the time there will be waves which can swamp your boat. A canoe is not recommended.
Everyone faces fear. No matter what sport, what occupation, what age you are, we all know the feeling of fear. How to overcome it is a hot topic. While I am no expert, I have a take on this subject. Here is my road to losing the fear, and getting back to the passion.
Let me back up for a second. I got to a state of fear that almost paralyzed me for a number of reasons: I had a scary side pin at the top of go left and die on the green narrows, I had a swim that didn’t allow me to come to the surface on the first try, separated AC joint, broken ribs, and losing a friend to the river (to name the bigger stuff).
1. Walk away
Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away. Clear your head. Figure out why you are doing what you are doing. If whatever has happened to you scares you beyond loving what you do, continue to take time away. If you are meant to get back to it, it will call you.
2. Go back to the basics
There is nothing wrong with taking a step back. Or 10 steps back. Personally, I purchased a long boat and went back to flat water. I needed to retrain my muscles how to paddle more effectively. I needed to focus on one thing at a time and trying to do this in raging whitewater wasn’t ideal.
3. Be a student
Seek resources on how to become better at what you do. Make sure these are trusted resources that will guide you in the right direction.
4. Be a teacher
One of the best ways to become better is to be the teacher. See what works for others. Change your perspective to teach and see the possibilities open up for yourself. Even if you don’t think you are good enough to teach, get out of your comfort zone and give it a shot.
5. Positive self talk
This point is big. If you tell yourself you are going to fail, you are likely to fail. For myself, I not only want to succeed, but I want to do it with grace. My self talk could be a reality show and I’m not always nice to myself! I might yell at myself, but I’m telling myself I’m more than capable and to suck it up and do it. Telling myself I can do it, or telling myself this isn’t going to be good, can be the difference between running a rapid on my head, or coming through on the other side with a huge smile on my face while remaining upright.
6. Listen to your inner voice
What is your intuition telling you? This is tough. When we are scared, we think that voice is telling us to run the other way. Not to run that line of that rapid. Get out and walk. Quit altogether. But really listen. If this is a super strong feeling, follow it. Don’t ignore it. That rapid will be there the next time. But if your inner voice isn’t screaming those things and you know you can do this, then just do it.
7. Give yourself a break
If you don’t move forward as fast as you want or you remain paralyzed, don’t beat yourself up. It will call you when the time is right.
Here is my personal example of this. It has probably been 5 years since I ran go left and die by running it left (sneak is to the right). As I mentioned earlier, I had a nasty side pin (at the top of the log!). It got into my head. And in a real big way. To the point that I almost stopped running this river. Fast forward to last summer. I reinjured my shoulder (separated my AC joint back in ’09). I purchased a long boat and started all these steps I’m writing to you about. I’ve been feeling strong lately and getting back out to the green. My first time back out this summer I wanted to run left. But I hesitated. I decided to run right for numerous reasons but mainly, I wanted more there on safety.
Every time after, there was always a reason. Most importantly, it wasn’t calling me. Until recently. I still didn’t have the numbers in safety that I wanted, but my energy levels were beyond normal. I was feeling it. I sat above, looked down, swallowed the fear of what happened before, saw my line and decided this was my moment. No hesitation. One stroke, line up, take a deep breath, trust in my skills and go for it. I was all smiles, hooting, hollering and fist pumping after running it. It was a huge accomplishment for me and one that only I will understand.
But remember, don’t allow fear to swallow you whole. Take measures to overcome. Be positive. Listen to your inner voice.
The goal behind starting up the Confidence Series was to start small, and grow. Our second event finished off with small numbers, but many smiles. With a playboat clinic in the Southeast, doesn’t come endless kayakers. With small numbers, instruction is drastically increased with quality. Nikki and I set out to have a good time, for us, and for those joining the clinic. After all, this is what playboating is all about. The dynamic of the group was this; badass chic creekers wanting to try new things in a playboat. This makes a clinic pretty easy. Here are some things that we worked on: catching a wave on the fly, surfing, spinning, cartwheeling, stern skirts, double pump, wave wheels and looping. Unfortunately the great play feature at the end of the run was a bit washed out and not many tricks could be had but everyone got on the feature and did the best they could to take home some Astral and Jackson Kayak schwag. To conclude the day, SweetWater beer was provided and consumed! Both the Cheoah event and the Pigeon event are set to take place again next year!
(Photo Credits: Nikki Malatin, Amy Little, Crystal Gustin)
(Sponsors: Astral, Jackson Kayak, SweetWater Brewing)