We had a pile up heading into the biggest section of whitewater on the McKenzie and I was right on Courtney’s tail. I paddled left to avoid her boat and immediately succumbed to a side wave. I held out underwater for a bit but no one was going to rescue me. I pulled my sprayskirt and swam. Humiliated. But something good happened. I rescued myself and my own boat. I didn’t need anyone’s help.
I kicked it to a safe eddy, emptied out the water myself and got back in. I choked back tears not because I was embarrassed or defeated but because I couldn’t go back and try those waves again. If everyone else could do it, so could I.
I caught my breath and paddled back to the group. The other girls smiled encouragingly. I talked to Lauren and felt better as we approached the last section of rapids. I finally made it without swimming. The cheers from the girls matched the ones inside.
We climbed back into the van for the ride home. I sat quietly listening to the others whose energy was twice what it was on the way in. SheJumps is no miracle drug that will turn you into an instant extreme athlete. However, it does get you amped. It gives you a taste of what that life is like; it enables you to explore parts of yourself you weren’t in tune with while keeping you safe and it plants a seed for continued adventure. It’s up to you to connect the dots.
I loved visiting Bend, meeting the folks at Tumalo and sharing time on the water with some really cool chicks. And I love kayaking whether I’m paddling or swimming next to my boat. At least I know I don’t have to impress some guy with my mad skills or hear him tell me to suck it up.
To learn more about SheJumps, befriend the SJ Girafficorn on Facebook, go to SheJumps.org, and follow on Instagram and Twitter with @shejumps and #shejumps.