Hilde Schweitzer 05/11/2016 | Posted in 2015 Zen, 2016 Rock Star Competition, Creeking, Internationalisation, Playboating, River Running, rivers, Trip Reports, Trips, United States, Whitewater, WW Disciplines
If you’re a runner or biker you know about Strava. I signed on a few years ago and got hooked on the “faster is better” mentality that Strava seems to promote. It got so that every time I got on my bike the only thing I wanted to do was beat my last time or that unknown person a few seconds ahead of me on the ride list. Instead of stopping to look around or take a rest, I pushed harder and ended up forgetting the very reason why I was out there in the first place.
It took a while but I no longer feel compelled to spend my time outside chasing illusive goals at the expensive of enjoying the experience for what it is. While I still check out my place on the leaderboard after the fact, it isn’t something that determines my self worth or makes what I do on any given day any less worthy or enjoyable.
In some ways my boating has followed a similar path. I logged miles, listed rivers, counted days in my boat, and often forgot that the journey really was more important than the destination. I still keep that log, but find that these days I spend more time looking at the scenery on the river, more time chatting with friends, and more time just floating than in years past. I have gotten over labeling myself a “good” boater because I can do harder runs, something that was a big motivator several years ago. I was setting goals I could never achieve as the older I got, the less able I was to keep up, go bigger, run harder things, etc. I started boating when I was in my 20’s. I am now half way through my 60’s and I am still out there paddling, and if anything, I love it even more, so there is something to be said to backing off, taking your time, re-visiting some of those Class 2 and 3 rivers from the past that you loved.
I also have noticed that many boater friends have dropped out of paddling through the years. There is an article floating around by Doug Ammons about going big and how it is making the sport participation decrease mostly through attrition by fear from bad experiences. There are a lot of reasons to stop paddling and I am certain a horrible experience could be a big motivator, but there are so many reasons and ways to keep paddling and keep enjoying the sport after a setback. Don’t think that you are any less a paddler because you only boat a lower grade river these days. Don’t buy into the hype that unless you are a gnar boater, constantly boating at the top level, that you have less value as a paddler.
If you love paddling, don’t stop. If you loved paddling at some point in your life and quit, think about giving it a go again. You don’t need to set unattainable goals, just get out there and paddle—you just might find the reason that you started in the first place is still there!