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?


  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!

  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!

  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.