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.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kayaking Couples

The water swirls around my paddle, I look up as the fall colors envelop the forest. Rock ledges protrude from the canyon walls towering above. The rain gently ruffles the surface of the water as we continue our journey downstream. I drive my bow over boils and wait for the moment I cross the rock shelf. Blinded momentarily, I reemerge and continue, turning and looking upstream as the remaining group drops in.

The dance continues until the canyon opens up and concentration slacks. I drag my boat onto the shore and rumination begins. This day I had the opportunity of kayaking with two class V couples. This is a tremendous rarity. There are very few couples that can manage the intensity of a kayaking partnership.
Those in class V relationships speak to their benefits. "You do get to spend more time together" says Shannamar Dewey, partner of expedition photographer Darin Mcquoid. "There isn't any competition from other women" says Diane Gaydos, half joking. And that is true. There are very few female kayakers in the upper echelon of the sport, which makes women standout when they are out there. It also makes it incredibly difficult to find a girlfriend or partner that kayaks.
There are suprising benefits to dating a kayaker, "When you have a partner that kayaks, you don't have to think of interesting dates, you can just go kayaking" says Daniel Brasuell. But there are drawbacks as well.

"Well, a big drawback is not being able to exaggerate how cool you are" and "it is embarrassing to cry in front of your girlfriend" says Daniel. Diane confirms that Daniel is a huge wimp that cries almost every time they kayak. :)
The partnership plays a role on the water beyond just when one partner gets an embarrassing beatdown. It comes up when portaging. Because part of why we portage is our perception of how good we are, we can be influenced to portage or run something if someone we believe is at the same level runs it without problems. "I will look at a drop again if Daniel runs it, and his line may even convince me it is good to go".

There are other reasons not to date a kayaker besides confusing portaging . Darin spends about half of his year gone, whether running the high sierras or taking part in an expedition to unknown waters; it is a traveling lifestyle. This doesn't mean much time for the partner. On this trip they were fortunate enough to both be able to go. Diane and Daniel have been able to take several trips together, including Chile this past year. Though these relationships have worked well it doesn't mean that we should all run out and try and find a partner that kayaks. 
John Grace says "I just like to kayaking with the boys". Matt Smink agrees, "I am sick of hearing about kayaking, the last thing I want to do is go home and hear more about whitewater". Really guys? I think if there were an even number of females as males in the sport, your tune would change. 

We have heard from the men, but what about the women?

One problem that Emily Meredith stated(she refuses to date kayakers) is that she doesn't want to "Be one of those girls". You know who: Pro-hos(excuse the term). In a sexually competitive environment where probably 90% of kayakers are male, those few females certainly have the opportunity to make their rounds, as is the saying in Alta "You don't lose your girlfriend, you lose your turn". That isn't necessarily a bad thing, humans are very sexual creatures, in fact we are one of of only two species that has sex without the intent to reproduce. Bonobos are the other, and in fact it is shown to reduce tension within a group and it is used to resolve conflict. So get out there ladies, ease some tension.
In some ways we don't really have much of a choice about whether we date a kayaker or not. There are many men and few women in the sport. If you decide to date within the group you have limited yourself to a handful of people(if you are a man). I can't think of a female kayaker out there that actually has a boyfriend that doesn't kayak. The bottom line is that love is a hard to find, even lust is hard to find. People are out there to find what they can get, and many have given up on trying to find a partner that kayaks. I think that there is a deeper issue here. Kayakers are undatable. They are dirty, travelling, pranking, self-interested people who don't have time to hang out with anyone but other kayakers. Shannamar said it best when she said "I would never encourage a non-kayaker to date a kayaker." Maybe no one should. 

1 comment:

  1. This article might be relevant here: