I finally did it!
After 2 failed attempts to test out the skills I had learned at a kayaking clinic, the weather finally cooperated with me for an exciting journey on the water of the Grand River, about 90 minutes west of Toronto.
I had heard about this kayaking trip – tagged as suitable for beginners. Kayakers are picked up at the planned exit point in the Brant Conservation Area, and then shuttled upriver to the town of Paris where the launch spot is located.
The kayakers are then left to navigate the 12 km journey back down the river, as quickly or as slowly as they like.
On an impulse, I boldly registered online … and then spent 3 days stewing about the wisdom of going out … alone … to kayak for an estimated 3 hours … with no previous experience … on a river riddled with mini rapids.
I was practically making myself sick with worry about it – but then again, anyone who knows me well would say that’s just my default setting, and therefore it was situation normal.
The launch spot where I was taken did not inspire confidence and my anxiety level spiked again.
I briefly considered whether I might want to change my mind. It did, however, make it very clear which direction I needed to go.
At 9:30 on a Monday morning, I was the only person on the river. Once I got over the initial panic of navigating the turbulent water, I settled into a comfortable stroke.
I would be an hour on the water before I realized I was holding the paddle upside-down.
My only company over the 12 kms were numerous turtles sunning themselves on rocks, teams of various ducks, gaggles of Canada Geese, and the bonus for the day – dozens of Great Blue Heron.
They reminded me of modern pterodactyls squawking out their alarm as they watched me warily from the shore before taking flight.
I came close to capsizing a couple of times and at one point managed to wedge myself onto some rocks in a particularly rough spot of turbulent water.
I flailed around madly, trying desperately to get out of the small whirlpool in which I was embedded. I have no idea how long I struggled before it finally occurred to me to simply get out of the kayak and walk it over the offending stones.
I had to do that twice. Needless to say, I got really wet.
Quite frankly, it was over before I knew it. As usual, all the worry and concern I had that this adventure was too big and ambitious for my skill level, turned out to be unnecessary.
I can hardly wait to do it again.