Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Going Against the Flow.


Only dead fish go with the stream...

When I look back on my kayaking trips I rarely have had a shuttle waiting for me at the river's end, not that I wouldn't mind one. But, when you solo as much as I do, you learn to do without. It's convenient to park, unload and paddle-up stream as far as I can or that time permits.

Now I'm not paddling up the Colorado. I find gentle flowing rivers with a little gradient. I have learned to read their eddies and flows. When the river turns, it forms a bend. The strongest, deepest and fastest current will be found on the outside.  Toward the inside, the water moves at its slowest.
Staying to the river's inside is where the current provides the least resistance. I hug those soft lines on their insides. Back and forth, side to side, I paddle wherever I find the least current. Where the river flows the quickest, I feel a nudge. That is where the river is telling me, I'm going this way.

 Rivers are like that.  It doesn't care about your future. It has already been upstream and is now looking for an effortless path to the sea. If you want to tire yourself out going against the river's torrent, it might say, "That is your problem. I'm looking to be lazy. Paddle up far enough and I'll convince you to turn around. Why fight it? Just go with the flow."

Old guys fish and teenagers swing from ropes tied to trees limbs along the bank as I paddle near. It is leisure time for them. They study me as I endeavor against the so-called current,  like I was coming from another place in time. 
"Wouldn't it be easier going the other way?" one calls out.
 "It would be faster," I respond.

I can hear the slight roar of the rapids while paddling up. It is a negligible whooshing. It's around the bend. I know it is coming. On the Upper American River I find a few spots where I have to wade through the stream while pulling my kayak up past the rocks. It was here, I think, the early explorers pulled their crafts up river looking for the source. The rocks are slippery and rugged as I wade through ankle deep water. It brings out the frontiersman in me. I remember watching the old western where the heroes forded the streams. It is a short portage for me. Its only yards till I get to calmer and deeper waters.

Before long I get to a dam, another series of rapids or my body will have had enough. I then turn the bow into the current and feel the power of the water turn me around. This is my reward, but I'm too tired and out of breath to enjoy my triumph.