Paddles up – or down, depending on the moment

Another adventure – and a check off my bucket list.  A few weeks ago I signed up for my much anticipated kayak lessons from High Level Kayaks.  The program – Day 1 – on the lake, learning to use proper paddling techniques. Day 2 – paddle the Castle River – Day 3 – paddle Waterton River.

Although I couldn’t take anyone else into signing up with me, I still went ahead with the adventure. I was sure the group would be filled with kindred spirits, other adults like me who were just learning how to kayak.  But, once again, I was surprised.  Despite the trip being marketed as an adult group, I was one of the only two adults. The rest – average age 12.  I was stuck with a gaggle of kids. 

The paddling lessons at Park Lake also surprised me. I had visions of gentle paddling in the morning, followed by a half hour or so of learning how to safely exit a kayak.  But alas, I was wrong again. Our first lesson – how to dump and get out of our kayak, Logically I knew it was important to learn this skill first, but I was unprepared to get wet right away.  The rest of the day was spent trying not to dump myself as I learned how to take tight turns on the small river kayak. We looked like a bunch of floating rubber duckies, weaving and bobbing uncertainly across the lake. Of course most ot the time was spent playing kiddie games. The leaders focused on making it fun for the kids.  Sigh.  

The day was very similar to the four hours we spent with the Outdoor Ed classes at Hela, only we were in kayaks instead of canoes.

I seriously thought about not going back the next day, but they agreed to let me try a hybrid kayak – one that has a retractable rudder for lake paddles.  So I gamely came back for a second day. Besides, I figured I should learn how to paddle on a river. 

I did ok most of the day, but again, much of the time was spent entertaining teenaged boys. Although everyone was well-behaved, spending another day with a bunch of kids held no excitement for me.  I made it through the day – and learned a few new paddling skills. I gained a new level of comfort for being in a kayak and paddling on a river.  But enough was enough. I made up the excuse that my sisters were visiting and backed out of Day 3.

Once again, my naïve dreams of finding a group of kindred spirits to become paddling buddies was dashed. My shoulders and back are sore, my legs are stiff, and my head aches from too much sun.  But I still am glad I went forward with this experience.  I have fallen even more in love with paddling, and can hardly wait to go again. I hope that I will soon find a group that will hike / bike / paddle with me. In the meantime, I will keep signing up for activities, and cross my fingers that I will be ok!

More to follow – pictures to come.

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