Bring on the Spring
Photography by Leif Embertson
An expert paddler, much like the Aikidoist, will be like the water he has dedicated himself to. He will fall through the fingers of that which tries to clutch him. Water does not hesitate before it yields, for the moment the fingers begin to close, it moves away, not of its own strength, but by using the pressure applied to it. The expert paddler yields to the force of the river and will guide its force to his advantage, never disrupting the rivers own intention. In this way the high water paddler and the Aikidoist operate under the same principle for success. They yield to an oncoming force in such a way that it is unable to harm them, and at the same time, change its direction by pushing it from behind instead of trying to resist it from the front.
Every year in the Southern Rockies there is a week of fear. It weaves through the community like a storm of buzzing bees and hissing like the ghost of a rattler. At times it is distant, like the fuzz of a television left on in another room. Then suddenly it is right up in your face, like a clock radio in the morning. Rise and shine, the waters fine, and charging high! These are the days we dream of, when our favorite runs turn brown and we know it’s about to get rowdy. No matter what class you run, you know when the sun shines strong in the high country and the spring nights become comfortably warm, you had better get your game face on.
The feeling in your gut, driving up the canyon is overwhelming, but you’ve got to concentrate. For some it can be painful. They try to exercise their demons. They puke or dry heave at the put-in. This can be disconcerting for those without this affliction. No matter who you are the butterflies are circling.
Nothing cools the nerves like those first couple of strokes, as you dip in with your blades and let the river power you forward. In your mind you’re already letting the river propel you through the thickest and the whitest of the flooding brown water. You will not fight it. You will not win. You will point it, jam your blade in and hold on.
High Water Poudre Video Action Below - Bring on the Spring!
- Sensei Stafford