Early this winter break I was able to have my personal first decent down Section 9 of the French Broad. My friend Travis took me down with a couple of his other friends and it was a huge learning experience. Although most of the learning was about preparation than actually kayaking skills. It was a colder day in December and I thought a double layer of neoprene and a dry top would be all the gear I would need. I was extremely wrong. I ended up swimming at one point and I was so cold afterwards that I couldn’t even get my spray skirt back on. I had to paddle through a few rapids before I could catch and eddy and get some help from the other kayakers in the group. Thankfully, this guy Bret switched paddles with me so that I could use his pogies.
The lesson I learned was this: I am a wimp when it comes to the cold. If I don’t have the right gear from no on, I ain’t paddling. I wouldn’t have been so miserable after that swim if I had had a drysuit on. Wetsuits and dry tops just don’t cut it during a North Carolina winter. I honestly don’t want to be a fair weather paddler but, I am going to have to prepare more from now on so that I can paddle in the winter. To all of those who bear this cold with minimal gear, props to you!
Even though I was cold, I was thankful that I was able to go down and get a taste of Section 9. It was the first river I got to go down with my new boat! I can now cross it off my list of things I need to paddle. Plus, I am quite sure I will be down it a lot this summer while I am in Asheville. So I can hone my eddy catching, my surfing, and other paddling skills. I am quite excited!!
Peace Ya’ll. 🙂