I’m sitting in my kayak. Around 200 metres in the distance I can see a group of people. They are my safety. If I capsize, and fail to roll, they will throw a line at me to rescue me from the fast torrents of the river and whatever it hides below. Between me and them, stands a mass of white water; waves and holes which are continuously waiting to capitalise on any mistake I make. Holes are a particular concern of mine; the words ‘retentive’ and ‘sticky’ are often used to describe how they can drag you away from the current and hold you in the same spot. They are close to how enjoyable I imagine a spin in a washing machine feels like. That’s scary when you’re in a boat, but even more terrifying were you to be out of it. It’s true that they will flush you back into the current quickly, but that does little to calm the nerves.
It’s hard to admire the high alpine peak above, my attention centred on the challenge before me. The more I think about it, the more I feel today is not the day. My muscles are aching from the day’s earlier paddling. My heart is beating quickly. Loudly.
I decide to listen to what my body is saying – Today is not the day. I will take the slightly easier line, which I have paddled before. The harder line is not going anywhere, and I will give it a go later in the week.
I paddled the slightly easier line and completed it head dry. I don’t mind taking risks, but it is important to know you
Today, one day after I wrote that post, I plucked up the courage to run the harder line. I ran it three times, capsizing twice, but managing to roll up, and once head dry. I’m happy to have waited. I think I learned an important lesson in that it is worth waiting for yourself to be comfortable. Also, when taking such risks there is no shame in backing out – sometimes it is the right decision. Unfortunately you can only really tell with hindsight!