I spent the holiday weekend teaching on the river and several experiences made me reflect a little bit on the nature of whitewater kayaking. The simple truth is that it is not an easy sport. There is so much going against this sport that is it kind of surprising that anyone does it. You have all this gear to acquire, you lock yourself into a tiny boat which doesn't go where you want it to, you flip upside down in cold water, your natural instincts are almost always detrimental, you have to learn complicated body movements while balancing a boat and figuring out water dynamics all at the same time, and that is all before you even get to actual white water.
But once you get to that whitewater - that's what hooks people. The power of the river, the sense of controlling your destiny while being out of control, the shear exhilaration of it all, that is why people climb that steep learning curve. And maybe that is what connects us as paddlers. We have that shared struggle, that same past of facing the unknown and conquering ourselves in the process. We are eager to share with each other and eager to help others on their journey. Every special society has to have its initiation and whitewater kayaking has the same one for every wannabe member - the river itself.