From the ages of 23 to 27, I whitewater kayaked at least 3 days a week during the Spring runoff when the water was running fast and high. Kayaking was an obsession. I schemed how I could escape my responsibilities and go kayaking. It was like a bad sugar craving and I caved in guiltlessly. But it all abruptly changed when I started having kids. Making fatherhood a priority, I had to eventually learn to balance my time between fun, family, and work. Consequently, I had to enter a “rehab facility” to wean myself off the “adrenalin high” I had become accustomed to experiencing---and enjoying.
Recently my daughter handed me a loaded cookie by announcing she wanted to go to Iceland for her Senior trip in 2 years. Little did she know that the “ land of ice and fire” is one of the kayaking meccas of the world. And I selfishly canived how I could benefit from her request.
“How would you like to learn how to kayak?” I asked manipulatively.
It was difficult for me to withhold my elation. A place I, too, had dreamed of visiting since my early 20's due to the stunning rivers. Naomi wanted to visit Iceland for its majestic glaciers and awe- struck views (I'm sure the movie Walter Mitty had something to do with that). No matter our reason it was going to be an adventure playground for both of us. And, I would have the opportunity to share one of my greatest passions with the female version of me.
One of the most gratifying experiences in life is to participate with your children in an activity that is your passion. But, kayaking has an inherent risk that goes against my protective fatherly instinct. I thought to myself, “Could she do it? Could I prepare her to kayak in this paddler’s paradise?” I thought to myself, “She certainly has the athleticism and mental drive developed from her years of competitive swimming.
Training started on Saturday at 5 a.m. before the Sports Mall pool opened to the public. We have 5 months before Utah rivers start to cascade with turbulent flows. Front stroke, back stroke, draws, braces, and the highly anticipated Eskimo roll all fundamentally need to be developed in the wee hours of the morning in preparation for her first experience of kayaking.
Over the next few months KOLIfit will report Naomi’s training and progress in the pool, the Weber River, and the Snake River (can’t wait for this one). What an honor it is to share the KOLIfit philosphy, inspiring people to improve their health through outdoor adventure, with those who are close me. I just hope I can control myself from “living in a van down by the river.”