Word and Images courtesy of Mike Harvey
In the midst of all the sick creeking the CKSquad has been busy ticking off this summer; I too am having a great paddling summer only on a slightly different track. My son Miles (5) loves to paddle his Jackson Fun1. He worked hard all winter in the pool and while he is not quite ready to learn rolling he can really move that boat around. So when we planned a Ruby Horsethief trip for the week after FIBArk, I knew it was on for him.
On the way to the put-in, with images of Jason Craig and Dane Jackson throwing down sick rides in Salida fresh in his head, Miles made his goals clear:
Miles: “Daddy, can I be as good as Jason and Dane?”
Mike: “Of course you can buddy. But those guys work really hard and practice a lot.”
Miles: “Well if I work as hard as them can I be just as good?”
No point in trying to explain genetics or the reality of having a Dad who owns a kayak company to the little fella at this point so I pushed on with the encouragement…
Mike: “You bet. And Daddy will have a lot of fun paddling with you”Miles: “Then I am not going to ride on the raft at all. I am going to paddle the whole time (I don’t know how to add the emphasis of a five year old reaching his arms out like he was showing you how big the fish was while say “whole time”… but you know…)
Check out the Video above!
At the put in Miles promptly drug his boat over to the river and started paddling, sans pfd, helmet and skirt. By the time his Mom and I noticed he was already about 15 feet offshore and heading for the current of the mighty Colorado River.
Once I had wrangled him back to shore and re-explained our safety procedure, my friend Peter Benedict and I go in our boats so that Peter’s son Otter and Miles could practice while the Moms ran shuttle.
The three days on the river were incredible. Miles loved being in the current and paddling through the mellow little riffles. At Black Rocks Rapid (a ¾ mile swirly class II) Miles made me shuttle him up and down to run in multiple times. His passion for paddling was clear. I have never wanted to push whitewater paddling on my kids but Miles wanted to paddle all the time. Finally at Black Rocks I had to have a talk that I never saw myself having… “Miles, daddy really needs to take a break from kayaking…” (i.e. Daddy needs a Tecate and little shade.)
It was like a dream come true to see my son enjoying the river the way that I do. His little sister Chloe (3) had a great time riding in the raft with Mom and now I can’t wait to get here in a boat this winter in the pool. The development in kid’s appropriate paddling gear has been a real revolution in whitewater paddle sports. I can’t wait for low water this year so that Miles can start poking around on the Arkansas (who would have thought you ever here me say that I can’t wait for low water). This is a fun and exciting transition in my paddling career…although admittedly not as exciting as running a waterfall backwards.