Am I ready to tackle wild water sports?
It’s been 30 years since my first swimming lesson, and as I rose through the ranks of lessons, swim team, and lifeguard training, there was no place I loved so much as being in the water. I was so comfortable, in fact, that I never felt the least bit of desire to participate in any kind of watersport. Water polo, water skiing, canoeing – just the thought of it pushed my anti-adventure envelope too far.
Subsequently, it came as a bit of a surprise to hear myself agreeing to go kayaking in the middle of a camping trip to Algonquin Park. Influenced no doubt by the legendary images of paddling on the park’s famous lakes, I felt the pressure of history upon my shoulders, not wanting to miss out on a great Canadian tradition.
Much to my relief, I realized that I would not be white water kayaking. I honestly had visions of having to navigate rapids! I’m not sure what I was thinking, but my actual experience couldn’t have been calmer. It turns out that you don’t need any special training to move a kayak in the water; you just dip the paddle in and go. Of course, there are many techniques to paddle more efficiently, more effectively but as a first timer I just focused on dragging the paddle through the water and it worked like a charm! Under the capable tutelage of my friend, I learned the simple moves for slowing down and turning and it all felt very intuitive.
As we glided across the still lake, I marveled at the natural beauty surrounding us and I was thrilled that I was making so much progress. While I was initially terrified that I would tip the kayak at the slightest movement (and some early wobbles did feel like impending disaster to me), overall I felt secure and stable. I wasn't scared at all and in fact felt quite comfortable and pleased with myself- the most successful anti-adventure yet!
For me, the hardest part of the experience was getting in and out of the kayak. I solved this problem by acting pitiful and got into the kayak while it was sitting on the shore and begged to be shoved into the water. Remember, pride is not an issue with anti-adventure activities! I was fortunate to have free access to good quality kayaks compliments of my camping partner. If you’re not as lucky, you can easily rent kayaks by the day or even by the hour. Remember to always ask for a properly fitted life jacket and kayak with a more experienced friend for safety’s sake.
After an hour, my arms and shoulders were getting a little sore. Even gentle kayaking is a good workout! I can’t believe it took me so long to try kayaking for the first time. While I didn’t fall in love with it, I did enjoy it quite a bit and I wouldn’t refuse another chance to kayak again at the next camping trip – that’s an anti-adventure win by any standard!
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. Have you ever tried kayaking?
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