Monday, June 15, 2009

Caves, light and reflection

Some of the things I do are dangerous. Generally the perceived danger (especially by those who don't kayak) is greater than the actual danger. But the actual danger is still there. Yesterday I chose to run a rapid that I knew was dangerous. And I chose to run the riskier line instead of the easiest route. Well, it was a mistake. A mistake in judgment that lead me there and a mistake in execution that brought me to the drop backwards.

I got flipped and stuffed into an underwater cave before I had the chance to roll. I immediately pulled my skirt and came out of my boat but I was still in the underwater cave. But shortly I got sucked down and out a hole in the bottom of the cave, popping up downstream in relatively calm water basically unscratched.

I've had more downtime in the past and I've certainly gotten more banged up in other swims, but this was definitely most dangerous situation I've ever found myself in. For a brief moment I was in the cave looking around for light and feeling nothing but solid rock. The thought definitely crossed my mind that this might be the end. But I quickly felt the current take me and then I knew I was rising towards the light at the surface.

I didn't really have time to get scared and I never reached the panic point in the cave. Once I climbed out on a rock I really just felt miserable for putting my friends through watching that. They had all gone to great efforts to set safety as much as humanly possible but there was nothing they could have done to reach me. And then they had to chase down my gear - paddle floated downriver while my boat stayed in the cave for a good ten minutes before washing out. I was stuck on shore watching them work hard to save my stuff and that's when I felt helpless.

All's well that ends well but I definitely have more to think about for my future decision making. The video includes a couple views from shore as well as my helmet cam that was running the whole time. Here are also some pictures of the fun we were having earlier in the day.

090614 Kern River kayaking from Aqua Aevum on Vimeo.

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