Whitewater stoke

I just got back from a few days in Vancouver, Canada.  I went to visit a friends who is working there with my friend and her sister.  And we did a lot.  And we played a lot.  And we ate a lot.  And there are so many stories and moments to tell and share.  But, let’s talk about whitewater first.  We had the most wonderful opportunity to raft the Nahatlatch River.  Location somewhere around Boston Bar/North Bend, BC.  Getting there from Vancouver was beautiful.  We drove by these mountains covered in snow.  With these waterfalls cascading down like it was just commonplace.  Great big green pine trees were spotted all around.  Everything felt more massive and expansive.

We arrive, eat some food, eat some cookies (well, mostly just me, as usual), and gear up.  Believe it or not, it’s high water here too!  In fact, the trip almost didn’t happen because the water was so high.  But it simmered down just enough for us to be able to get on it.  But, still high water.  Which meant the whole high water shebang – safety kayakers, wetsuits (not that it was warm out), and in the case of this river, oar boats.  At high water, the Nahatlatch river becomes less technical, but fast moving big waves of whitewater.  It is continues, no pools, very few eddies, and those are small.

We get to put in, practice some paddling.  Amy and I snagged the front, with Kimberly right behind.  And I’m not kidding – this river was fast.  So fast.  I’ve never seen a river that fast before, much less raft on one.  Stoked.  And it reminded me a little of the Merced or the Dead river in Maine – continuous whitewater.  No breaks.  No breathers.  Just go.  Waves were massive and fun and splashy.  Walls and walls of whitewater.  This river was pure and utter stoke.  Pure laughter.  Pure joy.  And we just moved down the river at the speed of light.  On this river in this little canyon of pine trees, massive snow covered mountains in the distance.  Once again, so expansive.  So breathtaking.

We ran the same section twice.  No issues either time.  Just stoke.  Pure stoke.  Waves of whitewater.  Skirting around holes.  Face fulls of icy cold glacial melt whitewater.  There is truly nothing better and more alive feeling.  So much laughter with friends.  After each rapid, I’d just look over at Amy and Kimberly, and was just met with grins.  Big, whitewater induced grins.  Our cheeks hurt so hard from smiling.

While the North Fork, and the South Fork as well of the American was high water and more technical, this was big and bouncy and never stopped.  That is one of my favorite things about rafting different rivers.  They are all different.  Sometimes you are surrounded by rolling hills.  Sometimes you are in a deep canyon.  The style of river is different, and it’s never the same.  This river was pure joy.  Pure whitewater bliss.

 

Run with Joy

Sunday was the 2017 RnR SD half marathon.  I called it the coming out party for my hip that I injured back in fall.  It was one of those races where I wanted to capture each moment – but almost unsure if I should try to grip and hold onto the details of all these memories.  Or just slowly let the details fade away, and hold on to the emotions and the feelings – joy, pride, grateful, elation, freedom, strong, nerves, bliss, badass, inspired.

I went into running happy place right at the start, and stayed in it the entire race.  The sort of dream status for a race if you will, but usually there’s an ebb and flow with it.  Or I pop out around 8-10, and then that’s that.  But nope.  I had moments of doubt and nerves – I may enjoy the races, but I’m not immune to such feelings.  But quite often they do occur under a umbrella of joy.  And I think that idea is what confuses people who I talk to.  When I do these things – push yourself, find goals, train, etc.  A big part of the process is to feel uncomfortable.  To suffer.  To be uncertain.  To push through mental and physical barriers.  And the is not always there.  Or clear.  But.  The umbrella of it is there.  Sometimes it takes time or that perfect run or a step back to see it.

But 13.1 miles and my hip felt great.  It felt good to run a race again.  I love this race.  I feel as though sometimes it gets a lot of slack, but it has such a San Diego city feel to it.  And a big highlight was running into my friend at mile 11, and running the last 2 miles with her.  What are the chances?!  Last year I was cheering her on at mile 21 of the full, so this just felt full circle.  I love seeing the city come out to support.  Instead of being frustrated that their street is closed and there is early morning noise, I see people bringing their coffee and breakfast outside, to cheer, to support, to observe, to be a part of it all.  From a single person on the curb, to entire front yard parties.  To simple signs, to full on banners and costumes.  I love this city and I love events that bring out the best in people.  It really is true what they say – if you need to find some inspiration, just go watch a marathon.  All of the people….ALL of the people…will inspire.

The finish line was wonderful.  And there was a wonderful joy of being able to walk home, shower, and then walk back and enjoy the festivities.  And to watch Michael Franti and Spearhead sing.  I’ve love his music for a long while, and it was such a joy for me to be able to experience him live in such a close proximity, at the end of an event that already had me pumping.  His music is love and joy and passion and peace and fills my soul.  The good vibes were flowing, and the people were dancing.

It was a good day to run.  It was a good day to be.  2017 and beyond, I’ve still got some big running plans for you.

 

 

 

First river trip 2017 – the mojo was flowing

I just returned from 3 days of camping and rafting 31miles of beautiful high water whitewater.  For me, this is the start of summer.  The first time back camping.  The first river trip.  I love it so dearly.  There is something so simply marvelously and wonderful of it all.  I love the simplicity.  I feel so in touch with me.  And it forces me to be a little bit afraid and uncertain.

That is part of the beauty in rafting.  The uncertainty.  The moments where you feel both nervous and exhilarated, but know that at the end of the day, the river makes her own story and you are just grateful to be a small part of it.  I had been waiting years to be able to raft the 10mi stretch of the North Fork of the American.  Years.  Just to be in this canyon was at treat.  To be on an absolutely free flowing river.  A wild and scenic river.  The water color was this gorgeous aquamarine.  Clear and crystal like – so untouched by people.  Pure snowmelt.  The canyon had this mystery like to me. Maybe because so few people have been in this spot.  I love being in awe.  And when you can share these moments with people who appreciate it all just as much, it just enhances the moment and the magic.  Untamed.  Undamed.  Magnificent in all her glory.

Our first big rapid was Slaughter’s Sluice, about 5min into the trip.  River was at 2000cfs.  And it was here that I found this river was no joke.  It was like a mini cherry creek.  Beautiful technical whitewater at its finest.  Quite intimidating.  We came around the river out of Slaughter’s right into the top of Chamberlain Falls, and saw 7 little heads in the water, and an upside down raft being surfed over on river left.  But Chamberlain Falls deserves every little bit of talk that it gets.  It is a delight clearly when run beautifully, but we could also see the other side of this rapid floating right in front of us.  All we well.

The next big class IV+ rapid was Bogus Thunder.  Of which I tried to pay a little more attention to what was happening around me.  But I got popped/launched across the boat, and ended up half in the water across the raft, face first.  To be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve had an unwanted, unpredicted swim.  But here I was, face completely in the water.  And I thought I was going out – I was sliding further in for sure. And in my mind, I had already accepted it.  I had already formulated my plan, knew I was swimming, and had gone into self-rescue calm mind mode.  But while you can never underestimate the river, you should never underestimate your friend – who had gripped her arm around my waist, and that gave me the little bit of leverage I needed to get myself back into the raft.  I know we are all always between swims, but I was quite grateful to have avoided that one.  But I got close, and it was yet another reminder of the power and strength of the river.  That she has the final say.  But it’s always nice to know that when things heat up, my mind goes into a calm take action mode.  It’s something I have come to count on.  My reactions on the water.  My instincts.  I have grown to trust them.

Staircase rapid was the last big one of the day, and it was simply marvelous.  We paddled.  We hit whitewater.  It was long and pushy.  And I loved it.

The rest of the day brought a riverside lunch.  A beautiful class II/III stretch of whitewater.  A magnificent canyon.  Mini trickle waterfalls.  Lots of good company and laughter.  Always a good day on the water.

Dinner and drinks outside with live music.  A sound sleep in a cozy tent to the sound of the river rushing by.  These are the moments that I live for and that fill me up.  The river is my place.  I don’t have cell service.  I can’t check emails.  I don’t get texts.  I don’t know what major things happened in the world.  And I can’t share the current moment with anyone other than the people I’m with.

And what a treat to be able to run the entire 21 miles of the south fork American the next day at 6000cfs.  I’ve never seen such waves on this river.  The haystacks were just waves rolling off the sides of the gorge, going on and on and on.  The hills were still plenty green.  And I barely recognized troublemaker.  The entry into meatgrinder was my first clue of the difference of the high water.  That and chili bar hole was no where to be found.  Somewhere under the river to be found later this season.  Satan’s to me looked like Satan’s Cesspool of memory, but perhaps just bigger and stronger.  Full of power, but familiar.  Styled through it.  Joy.  Paddle high fives.

Love you river.  Thank you for allowing me to come back and experience your magic season after season after season.  Until next time.