Looking for adventure in a kayak on the Yampa

Hey, it shouldn't be a problem


— Standing on the banks of the Yampa River this weekend, I decided there's not a better way to spend a sunny spring afternoon than kayaking.

I have been thinking a lot about kayaking lately.

To me, there's something very appealing about those brightly-colored crafts floating down the roaring river, dodging boulders and rolling over when things get a little dull.

Yes, kayaking is something I want to do very much.

I want to be one of those people who have the sun beat on them as they wait their turn at the D Hole, pop into the bubbling water, spin over and over again and pop back out with huge grins on their faces.

Ahh, the adventure and the carefree days spent on the water. It seems so wonderful.

I should know better.

You see, I had similar picturesque images before I tried my hand at surfing and snowboarding.

When I visited Australia, I wanted to be that sun-kissed, beach-bum surfer riding waves just like they did on "The Endless Summer" and "Big Wednesday."

Sitting on a board out in crystal blue waters, watching the horizons for the big one.

The stillness of the ocean before you feel it swell up and gather its strength underneath you, and you reach down and start paddling.

The rush of catching the ride of a lifetime, your board weaving up and down as the wave washes toward shore.


No problem.

I had it all figured out.

What no one told me was the hardest part about surfing is being able to paddle out to where the waves break. The second hardest part is paddling to catch it.

My image of being a surfer did not include gulping down gallons of salt water when waves threw me off my board.

Before I even reached the halfway point in my paddle to where the more skilled surfer sat, I was sent flailing back to the beach. I lay there feeling as if I had just been run over by a 10-ton truck and sure I had gone blind from the salt water that had gushed into my eyes.

When I finally did catch my first real wave, it was to only stand on my board for a few brief and traumatizing seconds before losing my balance and tumbling off.

To add insult to injury, as I made my way to the surface, gasping for air, I was met with the loud crack of my head slamming into the bottom of my surfboard.

It was the first -- but certainly not the last -- time my head crashed into my surfboard during my six-month quest for surfing glory.

You would think a couple of bumps on the head would have knocked some sense into me.

They didn't.

When I came to Colorado, I believed the adventuresome and carefree days I had somehow missed surfing could be found in snowboarding.

I could be that daredevil snowboarder chick riding the mountain just like they did on the Warren Miller movies.

Carving my way through crazy steep slopes with snow flying in my face, launching off cliffs and dodging aspen trees.


No problem.

I had it all figured out.

That is, until I took my first lesson and could barely sit down for the next week because my behind was so sore. So were my wrists and back and almost every other part of my body.

This time around, I had fair warning of the challenges I would face. I just didn't realize I would fall so much and it would hurt so badly.

And, once I stopped falling, I started jumping.

Yes, I wanted to jump over the lips, off the rocks and catch air in the terrain park.

I wanted to do it with style.

Unfortunately, the need for flair had me once flying through the air, Superman style, en route to a dramatic face plant in the snow.

To add insult to injury, when I mustered the nerve to pick my abused body off the ground, I was met with a bloody nose.

So, I now know that when you learn a new sport, you don't always get what you have in mind.

I guess that is why they are called adventure sports.

I can tell you about a burning throat from too much salt water, a bleeding nose from a jump that went horribly wrong and maybe a concussion or two.

But those memories disappear when I look out onto the water and watch the kayakers dance over the waves.

My brain is able to push out how cold that water must be or the terror that rises the first time a kayak unexpectedly flips over and you are caught underneath the rushing water gasping for air.

All I can think about is how much fun those water warriors are having and how long it will be until my first "never-ever" lesson.


No problem.

I have it all figured out.


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