Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Epiphany on the Smith River

Fact: I needed to become more physically fit and active.

Reality: I don’t care for walking, bicycles are not my friend, and heaven help me (and you) if you ever see me jogging. I was facing a major dilemma and needed to find an answer…..soon.

Friends and family had tried to convince me that kayaking was the ideal sport for me, but I would not listen. I just could not imagine that it would be enjoyable. I also felt that I might be a little too old to learn the sport. Because my family and friends are so involved in that sport, I would find myself being drawn to the river when they would head off on a trip or even waiting for them to arrive at the end of the trip.

My family was determined that I at least try it and took me to the river. I was taught how to get in and out, how to paddle, how to “read the river” and basic safety guidelines. They retreated up the bank to watch and left me to explore in a predetermined area with another kayak nearby for moral support and additional instruction.

It was a great experience and I as left the river that day; I remember feeling sad that the kayaking experience was over. I wanted to stay and play on the river. Once you get a taste of what you have been missing, it is hard to let it go again.
Within a week I was fully outfitted with my very own, bright yellow, Old Town Vapor 10 kayak. I relied on advice from numerous friends as to the perfect kayak for a novice and the Vapor fit the bill. It has a large open cockpit and a very stable yet maneuverable hull. I purchased the necessary safety items and I was ready to go!
In Martinsville & Henry County, there is a fairly large group of kayakers and canoeists who are always eager to go on a paddle. They are very good at getting the word out on paddle opportunities. This group of experienced paddlers is also very good about mentoring those who are new to the sport.

For my first trip, we began our journey at the access point at Marrowbone Creek and floated/paddled down to the Mitchell Bridge take out. This trip was approximately 3.5 miles from start to finish. It was SO much fun! Since then, we have been on several trips.

I am on vacation this week and wanted to get on the river. Yesterday, my husband and I put our kayaks in at the South Martinsville access point and took a paddle down the river. It was a wonderful day. We paddled, we floated, we had lunch on huge rocks in the middle of the river and we played in the water! We observed wildlife and beautiful plants and trees as we made our way down river. It was a unique mixture of calm waters, moving waters, an almost total absence of sound at times, and then the call of the birds or the sound of the water rushing over the rocks would take center stage. It was exhilarating yet calming, all at the same time.
As we approached the take-out point, Marrowbone Creek, I had my epiphany. I had found MY sport, the answer to my fitness dilemma. I had just completed a 7.5 mile paddle on the Smith River. It took us approximately 4 ½ hours to make this trip. Was I tired? Yes, but the journey gave forth so many sights, sounds, opportunities to interact with nature, that you barely knew that time was passing. I had been one-on-one with nature, had my quiet times, had my fun times and had fulfilled my quest to find a way to become more physically active. Was I too old to take on this sport? Absolutely NOT! Come on 50th birthday and I’ll take you paddling with me!

Contributed by: Martha Smith

1 comment:

Brian said...

What a fantastic take on kayaking from the perspective of a new paddler...really cool. Thanks Martha, great writing !!