Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One Foot
In Front of the Other

One can take a four hour group lesson and learn to handle a recreational kayak in calm waters. As one of our local paddling gurus, Sherri Mertz (pictured above) says, you can do the forward stroke 99% wrong and the boat will still go forward (she points out that the percentages are just the opposite for rolling...but I digress). Once you're in the boat and have the paddle in hand, it's pretty much one foot in front of the other. Paddle left, paddle right, repeat as required.

For many, that is as far as they go with the academics of paddling, and that's just fine (as long as they stay in safe waters). For many of us, however, it isn't enough. Even walking can get boring if you don't throw in some hills and lovely scenery. For those who "get into" sea kayaking, there is something that drives us to improve, perhaps excel and to go beyond the basics.

There is, of course, the safety factor. Learning and mastering our braces, rescues and rolls keeps us safe and allows us to venture out into bigger stuff. Once out there we find a new world full of excitement and enjoyment. Once out there, we want to go back out into bigger stuff, and we want to do it as safely as we can. So, if you're like the folks with whom I paddle, you practice rescues in bigger and bigger stuff. You go to symposiums and learn from instructors with new approaches and ideas. And, as you get there, you become one of those instructors. Even then, the learning goes on.

I often seek out those of my mentors who live in the area. JB still keeps an eye on my form (hail the hanging draw) and Gary (who races) has for ever helped me improve my forward stroke. I still find myself working on the little details and relearning and practicing the basics. In the end, it is still putting one foot in front of the other, and doing it better each time.

Paddle safe...


1 comment:

JohnB said...

Wait until I get back from this Wilderness Medical Associates instructor's class--I'll critique your med skills, but only the wilderness medical skills!

Hello from the Cascade Mountains!