Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Conquering Fear via Kayak

Kayaking had officially become a symbol of my fear and my self-consciousness. It was one of the things I *want* to do but would never do because a) I'm not athletic, b) I'm fat, and c) I might look like a dork.

I've been making my annual bucket list for three years now and there's one item that is on my list every single year - trying kayaking. Truth be told, it ended up on the list by default. The first year, as I tried to come up with 35 things to do - kayaking popped in my brain as the number 35 thing and I never gave it any more thought.  Then last year, I made my list of 36 things and it remained. As last year came to a close, I hadn't even attempted to make it happen. It loomed over the list like a big minus sign.

This year, it became the one item I'd accomplish even if I didn't accomplish any others. Officially, I only had to *try* it. I never said I'd master it. I made a date with my friend Mike to give it a try. Mike is one heck of an outdoorsy guy. He rock climbs. He camps. He backpacks. He fishes. He kayaks, canoes, trail runs, blah blah blah. Guys (and girls) like him are the reason I usually forego these activities. They make it look easy. And they look good doing it.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I had knots in my stomach. I was excited and nervous, a ball of shaky energy threatened to make me "call in sick." Fortunately, my friend Stacy had agreed to meet me and take photos to document my adventure. Subconsciously, I think this was a way for me to not let myself back out.

My adventure started at The Ledge, Mike's store, where we loaded up the kayaks. Mike's store is a wonderful place and includes a gigantic rock climbing gym where my kids love to play.

I arrived at Lake Euwana and the water was like glass. Pelicans, ducks, and all sorts of birds were on the water.

It was a beautiful day and I was fully anticipating I'd be taking a dip in this water (not by choice of course). We unloaded the kayaks and prepared for our adventure.

Pelicans love Klamath Falls. Here one sits on Lake Euwana -
awaiting my kayak adventure.
 Mike started by showing me the "old man way" to get into the canoe. He promised this would be the "least likely" way I'd fall in. I was happy to see that it basically meant I'd sit down and scoot into the kayak. Still nervous, my arms were shaking, my heart was racing but I had brought extra clothes for the swim.

Notice my hands in little fists. I really was about to freak out.

Remarkably, I scooted in like a pro (at least in my mind). At that point I realized that I might tip over. I think my exact thought was "My butt is bigger than this kayak, what the heck was I thinking??"

Then Mike handled me my paddle and hopped in his kayak. He showed me how to paddle and included very helpful instructions for what not to do.
Mike provides a paddling lesson
I pushed away from the dock and was on my way. Slowly and surely, my kayak began to go in the direction I wanted and I had lasted at least five minutes without falling in.

And I'm off!
It only took minutes for me to forget I might fall in. Paddling took some coordination and I had to remember to relax a few times but the scenery was so amazing from out here. We saw wild iris, ferns, ducks, pelicans, and who knows what else. Before long, I was focused on the beauty around me. It was amazing to see Veteran's Memorial Park from this angle.
Look, I'm a pro! ha
I was thankful Scott and Stacy were there to record this but I was sorry I hadn't brought my camera. I was too afraid I'd be swimming!

I was amazed more people weren't out enjoying this lake that is right in the middle of our town. At one point this rower came out to enjoy the lake.
It was amazing to learn some things about our lake. For example, this lake has thousands of board feet of timber submerged. There was a mill here that used to float the logs here. Thousands of those logs are now submerged, waiting for someone to do something. From the lakeside, you could see where they put the logs in:
The tracks where the logs used to be put in the water
In a kayak, you get very close to the wildlife.
I'm not sure who scared who - me or the pelican
Some of the logs have become part of the landscape and now have all sorts of ferns and stuff growing from them.
I discovered bridges I didn't know existed.

It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it. It was relaxing and exhilerating at the same time. It was beautiful and eye-opening. I got off the water wondering how much a kayak costs and excited to do it again.

And I did all of it without falling in. No swimming on this day!

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