The Vermont Paddlers Club

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Friday-Sunday Jul 9-11, 2004
Kayak: Adam Craig, Chris Hull
C1: Alden Bird
Organizer: Brian Frost (but alas . . .)
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium high
Author: Alden Bird

This past weekend I met up with some Mainers with plans to run the Taureau. A large rainstorm undid those plans, but blessed us with many other rivers to explore.

We ran the Cache, the Sautauriski, the Blanche and the Tourilli. The Blanche in particular featured the most impressive drops I have ever seen. It looked like videos of Norway. But often the most impressive drops are not the hardest. The Tourilli, it was the Tourilli . . .

The Tourilli had two class Vs. The first proved runnable. The second V was not so friendly.

It was a 20-foot storm. The two main flows dropped into a massive hole. I thought that I could plug the hole, but I was in error. I did my best, but I got backendered and dumped in. It felt like my limbs were being torn away. After several cycles, I pulled my skirt and did not know which way was up or down until my back slammed into the sandy river bottom. After a few more seconds of going limp and awaiting another pummeling, I popped up 30 feet downstream of the falls.

My friends found my boat and paddle, but the hole ripped off my skirt and Adam didn't grab it as it floated by because he thought it was my shorts (and who needs those?) and went for the paddle instead! We never found the skirt.

What was strange was that immediately after I stopped gasping for air and spitting out river water I started enjoying the event. As we paddled across the flatwater at the takeout, and later as we unraveled our twisted route across dirt roads on the way back to town, I experienced a rich feeling.

While at once I felt scared and ashamed - I also felt within myself a new, deeper layer of experience. As they say, good judgment comes from experience. And experience comes from bad judgment.

There is a trait among lovers - every part of what they love appears unique and interesting. I feel that way about boating - every piece is something roundly considered. I can be detained for hours in a boating shop trying to determine what gear I need. I just want to slow down my days and savor every detail and explore everyone else's experiences that I might get a little closer and find just a little more joy in what I love.

It is that way with paddling. When a new thing rises with the color of a bad experience, my love of the sport curtains it and bestows upon it a redeemable character. Isn't that why we love talking about our mythical trashings?

So here is to the spirit of expanding. Here's to making our adventures mythical. Here's to hiking into waterfalls during the summer, studying maps, meteorology, using power tools and all that other stuff I never would do if it didn't expand boating and allow me to enjoy boating in yet another facet.

So here's to finding something good about getting held under water!

I feel that I am allowed to savor my trashing as long as I promise to do so forever - that I will not need the joy of another.

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