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, August 29, 2014

Our teacher

I often wondered why it is that you can teach yourself to kayak, or ski, and why you need a teacher to learn things in school. We certainly need to be exposed to the information, but why can't we just see the information and then start navigating it. Many people are taught to roll and then are taken out a few times kayaking, then start on their own. People can also just put on some skis and have a few words thrown their way and head down the mountain.

Months and months go by without instruction, sometime years, and we progress.

We get better and better and better.

The river teaches us, mountains teach us. It does what any good teacher does: gives us challenging problems, gives us immediate feedback, and makes it fun.  We sit in class day after day, and I try to take the lessons that the river teaches, and use that as a model for teaching.

Sometimes the river is quiet, subtle, slow; sometimes it is fast and powerful, loud and overwhelming. It can be playful, sunny and light, dancing and easy. The snow can be light and freeing, hard and fast, or windy and harsh.

These are the lessons that the river has, that the mountains have. You must have variety, you must always have your students adapting to something new.

A river or a mountain can be anything, and is everything, it gives life and takes it away, it is an ever shifting entity but the lessons are always rich and worth learning, even if they are tough. It has all of life wrapped up in it, and that is what we need from a true teacher. We need every lesson life has to offer, every part of life expressed by our teacher, and the rivers and the mountains have it, that is why they are the greatest teachers.

We can spend a lifetime in the mountains, running up them, biking through them, kayaking down their crevasses, swimming though their pores, and yet we learn each time.

Lessons from 10 years in the mountains(That I learn every year... over and over and over):

A light jacket is always a good idea
If you think it isn't enough water, it isn't enough water.
plan better than you did
you can push through hunger, but you really should have just brought a snack
Injuries are preventable and it is all about the choices you make
Injuries are healable, but only if you move them to heal
Sweat is good
Have a repair kit
Ballistic stretching is best, and should be done every time you move intensely
You don't want to do a recovery workout, but you should
Intensity interval training makes you faster
If you want to go faster, drink caffeine
Weight train and you will be more confident
It is always better with friends
It isn't one bad choice that gets you in trouble, it is a series of bad choices
Sleep like it is part of your training
Life is short, honor those who are gone, and do what they loved to do
Keep playing or you get old

Cheers to the mountains and rivers.
Keep on learning.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014


I have one story.

Richard emerged out of his eurovan at about 8:15 with a black t-shirt cutoff right above his belly button. A black skull sat prominently in the center of the shirt. His ravaged black curly hair suggested a night of questionable decisions influenced by deep optimism.  He began to unload to set up shuttle. Out came a mermaid, a sword, streamers, and shiny decorative stars. We unloaded his life, or at least his life last night. The skull on his shirt somehow was making more sense now, though I think his hair explained the length of the shirt, deep optimism with a hint of absurd enthusiasm.

As we hopped into the shuttle vehicle he popped back out, "forgot my river knife", and promptly returned with a comically feeble pirate sword. "Got it". Yep,  now we were going to be safe.

On the ride down he explained his choice of vehicle "$250 for rent is just ridiculous" he said. "And a cardboard mermaid isn't?" I thought to myself. But, I had to admit, the man lived simply, and lived the dream.

Once on the water he would thrust his sword in the air with each worthy boof. 

He was particularly excited before one rapid and he explained it as "A big boof followed by explosions all around you". Explosions? Yep. Ready? Yep. And, he was right. Explosions. 

As our time on the river wore on, he told us of being a river ranger, his dating, his life. He also said that being a kayaker is "like being a monk". I think he meant the river is your church, and it can be a lonesome journey sometimes. 

I met richard, and for a few days I knew him, we were friends, like old friends. That is the river for you, it offers you moments of clarity and satisfaction, and once you leave it is back to another life, but I love those glimpses. In no other place do you meet richard, do you become deeply involved, and just as quickly you are gone. But the memory and the connection remain.

Cheers to friends on the river, we will reunite yet again and laugh at portages, fear, and the suggested weight limits on racks.