This Blog

This blog is dedicated to explorations of spirit, life, adventure, and people. I hope that it encompasses much more than the actions of people, but rather creates a more complete picture of what it means to be an athlete and a person in the outdoor community.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Memento Mori

My lips are splitting. The skin on my shoulders and hands darken with each passing day, the hair lightens. My thermarest sinks into the ground each night. The hair on my chin grows long and soft, awaiting its vicissitude by way of razor.

Sunlight hits the tent and soon the heat fills my sleeping bag. It is time to wake. The waters loud whispers reverberate through the door of the tent, always bringing our mind back to its power, its proximity. It is here, and so are we.

We put boats on our shoulder and feel the effects of yesterday on our backs and mind. Our gear, still wet from the day before, slips on effortlessly, stretching over us like the sun over the water.

What are we doing today? Do we need food? Gas?

Questions swirl around camp as the day begins. The question that is always the last to arise... When was the last time I showered?

This shirt is dirty and I only brought two. I am tired of PB and J and I haven't even had one yet. We are on the road, and have been for a little while. Not long enough, because I am not home sick yet. I am not making cursory reasons for a hasty trip home.

I need to check e-mail. I need to write things down. I need to pay bills.

We are on the road on the good part of the trip. We are meeting people, boating new rivers, boating familiar runs. Boating a familiar river is like returning to an old teacher to show them how much you have learned. You are teeming with pride, awaiting its embrace, excited to show it your new moves, your new confidence. It shows you where you have been and what you are now. You change, and with you the river changes too. You see it differently.

We see friends as well. New friends, old friends. But time passes and we near the end of our journey.

Perhaps the most difficult thing is leaving. Leaving what we have found. We say goodbye to everyone. We have moments to remember them by, moments we shared a connection. We are not guaranteed another visit, another paddle down the local run, another chat around the evening fire, another shared meal . We live in those moments as friends, as comrades, and split as such. It keeps us honest, keeps us seeking.

We cannot become attached. To be attached is to suffer, the second noble truth: Dukkha Samudaya. The best we can do is enjoy the moments that we have together on this journey. Perhaps at some time in our life we can settle, we can start to put together routine, put together a life that feels complete.

Not here. Not now. Not while eating a cream cheese bagel out of the back of a truck in the middle of Nevada. 
We face impermanence. This life is momentary for us, it can be nothing else for we are moving. There is no tomorrow until it comes. We have gratitude for everyone we meet and the experiences we have now because of this impermanence. We know nothing is guaranteed, so with each waking moment we smile and know we have been blessed to paddle one more stroke, meet one more friend, open our eyes one more time. This is the life we live. 

I am grateful to all those that I meet during my travels, thank you for opening your hearts and homes to us. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

NF Payette

Bodies lay in this river. Their stories loom in the mouths and hearts of those who knew them, of those who know this river. Safety Institutes have been founded because of this water, humans desperately seeking to reverse what has happened here. Years pass without incident, without loss. Then it happens again.

And yet this water intrigues us. Satisfaction is etched into rocks and those that understand this water. For paddlers who dance toe to toe with this reluctant partner, self is buried within it's changes of flow, with its frenzied attempt to obey gravity.

Scarred rock is pounded by confused water. The water line towers above the head of paddlers during the arid summer, humbling the sports greatest. It waits here. Waiting for someone to make it beautiful. Waiting for someone to provide it momentary grace and reason. It does not contain it itself. It has been sullied, tainted by manifest destiny. But for a few mercurial moments, as someone edges and slips through its vastness, it makes sense again, only moments later to fall back into misery.

A river shouldn't look like this. Cracked boulders lie, twisted unnaturally, awkward and dangerous, facing all directions. They protrude out, slowly creeping up the walls of this gutter.

Each vortex, each differential current whispers an untold story: A swim, a perfect line, terror, a moment of exploration. The explosions of white speak words of destruction for the natural movement of this water. It is considered beautiful in its own twisted, derisive way, but only to a few. The few people looking for madness, looking to be caught off guard. People who hope for unwavering punishment. They wait. They focus their eyes on high water lines. They want to laugh at this waters course, its broken state as it makes an effort to kill them.

A word: I wrote this entry while on the MF Salmon, Stephen Forster's tragedy was unbeknownst to me. This is not in reaction to that event. I send out compassion to B-real and all those on the rescue and my condolences to those who were close to him. There is a link to b-reals writeup in the articles section. 

360 Degrees of water falling

Clancy, Kevin, and I arrived home to find that our local waterfall, Indian Falls, still had enough water sliding over it to make it fun. Kevin had never run a waterfall before so we spent an afternoon trying out different lines on it. I walked around it, seeing what different shooting angles does for the composure of a photo. Here are the results:

Rehab update: As I write this it has been 29 days since dislocation. I went kayaking for the first time 27 days after injury. I ran indian falls three times then we ran a local class IV run: Virgilia. It is a little sore, the ligaments can handle forward paddling but nothing unpredictable. I can do full pullups and pushups most of the time, depending on how much I used it.

I will continue the class IV tour with Kevin and Clancy for a few more days then return to rehab, hoping to be fully healthy by the time I leave for New River Academy and a full year of kayaking.