Finding a crew is hard. Even finding people to recreate with is hard. You don't want to hold them back, you don't want them to hold you back. Or at least that is how is starts. When you start a sport, it is all about you, your learning, your safety, the river, the trail, the mountain. Over time you start to manage all those things. You become prepared, and self sufficient, and the worries start to dissipate and what is left is you and your friends. You have gone so many times that it doesn't matter so much how fast you go. You have gone fast. You have gone slow. You have taken it easy. You have pushed yourself to your limit.
You always have to go with others though, and it is hard to break into a new crew, or even find a new friend. Kayaking combines all these things: similar skill, similar speeds, desires, dispositions, safety considerations, logistics, even diet can play a role in how people interact on a trip. You make a lot of concessions to play with other people. So it is of the utmost importance that we communicate with each other about our intentions, our needs, our situations, and are able to read other people.
Rules of engagement:
1. If you are asked on a trip, and you had no part in the planning, don't invite anyone else. They extended the invite to you and you only.
2. Tread lightly when trying to get onto someone else's trip, recognize that they are doing you a huge favor if they let you paddle with them. Trip logistics as well as the safety of the group change a lot with the addition of one person, and frankly, river trips are some of the most complicated trips to plan, that is why it is rare to get more than a few people on the river at a time.
3. Get a tight crew. Go with them all the time. You will meet other paddlers through this crew, but will still be within the safety of your crew, you are not a rando if you are with other people.
4. It is best to go with people you have not paddled with before on a classic, relatively easy run for your skill level. Pushing it in a new group is hard on everyone.
5. You will break every one of these rules because kayaking is very hard to get people to do, when you want and how you want.
Here is a shot by Jay Lynn, the rare shot of the author.
Have fun out there, and communicate!