Here’s a write-up of our Alpine training and development trip earlier this summer, as written by our eloquent in-house Bard, Dan O’Sullivan
I’m wearing a luminous orange wife beater and I’m on my second bottle of San Pellegrino Orange Soda while my punnet of strawberries is diminishing. It’s 5 o’clock, we are driving from Bergamo to Kobarid and I feel better than I have done in a year. Tomorrow brings that moment I have been waiting a year for. When you are just paddling along and something happens, you react perfectly and the water splashes in your face. Then and there in that moment I will have my first white water smile. All my worries, anxieties, insecurities and the tremors of stress and the memory of outside life will disappear and I will exist as I should. That moment will be as clear and as pure as the Alpine snow melted water that we are paddling.
The craic is 90 on Seanie’s bus. Suddenly I have the feeling that things can change. The summer is opening up like a wide expanse before me and each breaking wave that crashes into the flood of excitement on this bus holds infinite possibility for mirth as we gaze deep down into the valleys of white water playgrounds from dizzying heights. Life passes quickly. Soon I’ll be thirty so I will live these final days of my twenties to the last drop. Kayakers form weird friendships because we rely on each other to save one another’s life when something goes wrong. The trust you have in your friends gives you the confidence to push boundaries you never thought possible. To wander so far out of your comfort zone within this group is cathartic. We won’t go home the same!
There were days of anxious overcrowded eddies. There were fun filled non-stop white water wave trains and days being thrown into the air from big bouncy waves.
I like to compare rivers to women. A good river should be beautiful, exciting and just a little dangerous. Your body should experience some sort of anticipation to indicate her approach. Little Canada and The Sermenza Gorge hold special places in my heart. When we got off the water, I screamed “It’s great to be alive!” at the top of my lungs. I had a pain in my face from smiling but I didn’t mind. Today was a good day, praise the river gods!
The weather was amazing and I wish I possessed the skill to accurately describe the beauty of this place. The mountains reminded me of the awe I felt when I first saw the skyscrapers of New York. They seem to have a character and personality of their own and their presence is comforting. It also reminds me of how lucky I am to be here in this natural paradise.
I have forgotten my life at home and I have notions of staying in this dream forever. The comforts of home like a warm bed, and having a place for everything rather than a smelly dry bag seem like bourgeois luxuries.
On our rest day we ventured boldly forth into the city where I was kissed by four women who coincidentally all had eyes as green and beautiful as the Soča River, and was mugged by a seagull who dive bombed from above to steal the sandwich in my hand as I dipped my feet into the Mediterranean sea at San Marco in Venice. This trip and the memories created by it are solid gold and will be locked away in the vaults of my mind for retrieval during the coming year. I’m going to spend the summer teaching kids to paddle and hopefully one of them will grow up to dream of white water waves trains.