Jul 18, 2012

Fear vs. Safety

A frequent question I get from my female friends is, "aren't you scared?" when I talk about the water Kirk and I have been running.

"Yes," is my answer, "but if the feeling of safety outweighs the fear and I am confident I can run the line, I will do it. If not, I walk around."
Eek, not safe enough for me...scouting revealed a large subsurface rock
and at this water level it's to shallow to "boof" over it.... maybe another time!

I think this is the most important part of boating for me, learning where the safe places are, how I can keep myself alive, what to do if I'm in trouble, (all ongoing skills I am trying to acquire) and also, being able to keep others safe.
But this one was great (with Kirk setting safety)

I am lucky to have a partner that has been a professional kayak guide for most of his adult life. He's the guy that gets invited on trips because others know he will know how to unpin a boat, flip the raft back over and rescue the dude caught in a hole. Kirk once said, "you are a class III boater when you can not only boat class III but when you know how to rescue someone out of a class III rapid...and so on (IV & class V) Does everyone abide by these guidelines?

A friend recently wrote concerned about my safety after a friend of his died while kayaking the Stikine River. Another local boater broke his back a few weeks ago. Boating is a sport with HUGE risks, although with any kind of boating, you only have to take it as far as you are comfortable with...I'm boating now out of a sense of exploration, because it is a fantastic combination of what I love (backpacking) and what Kirk loves (kayaking), and honestly, it is a way to experience landscapes in a way I haven't before. I think I hesitate and take the safe line because I like to walk, I like to do yoga and bike and ski too. The learning curve is slower that way, but I feel safer, and thus have more fun.

How do you handle the fear vs. safety aspects?

3 comments :

  1. Hi, I like your blog. The rivers there look great. I don't run stuff like this (yet!) so for me safety vs. fear is more about being out on my own on open water or rivers. But I'm generally cautious. I understand the risks that remain after I've done what I can to reduce them, and accept them.
    Looking forward to reading more about your trips!

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  2. Right on, thanks for reading! We are headed to another little creek with drops this weekend, so might have some good stories...have fun in your boat!

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  3. The fear vs. safety question becomes even more interesting after you become a parent. I always considered myself on the conservative side when it comes to backcountry risk, but when there's a family to come home to it assessing risk carries so much extra weight. I find that I like to push my limits with endurance activities, rather adrenaline inducing activities ... because the consequences are less severe.

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