There is nothing that stands out in my mind as more enjoyable than harnessing nature and respectfully shralpin the heck out of it. Whether you are climbing a cliff, skiing down a mountain, surfing a wave, or paddling through a river, nature offers the most wholesome thrills that i could never get from accelerating a large truck in a residential area. Much of our British Columbia is covered in features that can be descended, ascended, transcended, and befriended. MAST essentially gave me a well rounded toolbox of skills that i can use and improve on these features every single day of my life. The more I learn, the more I come to appreciate and connect with the natural world around me. The more raw enjoyment I squeeze from the rindes of life. Im getting so much juice out of life these days its just tremendous. Lifes pretty much a watermelon. All thanks to MAST, the instructors/guides who make it happen, and the mighty tectonic plates who waged war on their own brethren to create such an interesting landscape for us.
This week of radness in particular was spent in a Kayak in the Slocan Valley under the watchful guise of all around megadude Chris Ryman @ Endless Adventure. Chris proved to be an awesome paddler and although he was exceptionally skilled, had no problems teaching us the basic forward stroke or give us a nice T rescue when we somehow managed to flip on stillwater. None of us were surprisingly natural on the first day or anything. We were zigging when we should have been zagging and other similar errors. Got wet and stayed wet for the entirety of the day. Our techniques begain to improve on day 2 with mileage and frequent bald eagle sightings. Those birds are so mystical, I gotta say I feel pressured to perform when they are around. Before we knew it our vessels were passing through the water pretty darn gracefully. We found a mellow eddy and began to practice entering and exiting a current with power angle and tilt. . We continued these mellow laps in the sun and it was a very tranquil time. I felt like a young karate student and I was to one day defend the empire. my spastic tiltys started to despastify and the groove was setting in. Loons chimed in with their approval and our sights became set on the river ahead of us. It was time to rumble in some class 2 greencaps
Rivers are freakin powerful. The only person who i could envision stopping the flow of a river would be MAST instructor Brian Bell, and even that would be pushing his capabilities. Our first river wrangling as a crew was pretty awesome. Envision a 100 foot wide river and 5 first time paddlers. The name of the game today was “Ferry” across the river, which is a term used to describe setting an angle to the river current and using a basic wedge principal to aid your traverse across. In beginner terms that means flip instantaneously and bob upside-down for 50 meters until you realize that the T rescue isn’t happening for you. The river swallowed 3 out of 5 of us on that ferry alone. It was somewhat dramatic, seeing everybody topple almost immediately. We were in the most beginner belly of the beast and it was still ruthlessly degrading our team. We regrouped on the shore across the channel like jeeeeez this is actually quite difficult. The rolling techniques were brought out here, adding another element to what at this point seemed to be the most difficult sport in the world. Rolling is a whole like 3 paragraphs of peril that I’m just going to take the liberty to skip out on, because long story short, we all got the roll down as the sands of time whisped through the candlelit den of eternity.
The next few days were spent on the Slocan River – and holy smokes… Rivers are in my top 5 personal favorite water formations, ranked slightly behind “a glass of”. Everybody could smell the destiny in the air that day. The rolls were practiced and eddys entered and exited. Our squad was ready. Just as we set to enter the river, I once again met eyes with a bald eagle, as if a manifestation of my own spirit setting wing to the sky and flying out into the greatness of the world and beyond. It was a bit of an existential moment as I got sideswiped by a rogue wave and toppled into the gurgling underbelly of the Slocan. Got T rescued pretty quick though and all was good. I stopped making any sort of eagle metaphors in relation to my beginner kayaking. At this stage an appropriate metaphor for our teams kayaking would have been a traffic pylon or a leftover bowl of salad. But still really fun.
The next few days were a blur of progression, laughs, trying to roll, and getting t-rescued. The Slocan river was the perfect beginner river, evolving from a reallly mellow current to some decent class 3/4ish wavetrains that had all of us hooting and hollering. By the end of it, Luke had actually performed a couple of moving water rolls. Holy crap its hard to paraphrase all of the darn good moments we had out there. This was 2 full days on the Slocan – SURFING THE WAVES BREW, surfing a wave, in a kayak. Truly remarkable sensations left right and center. Nature! Water! Friends! Adrenaline! Rear delt workout! Learning new skills! Camping at Endless Adventure’s guest accom!
Gotta pour out some love to Chris Ryman, who was a downright fantastic instructor and great teacher. He helped shift my perception of a kayak from “Death device that I will surely drown inside,” to “Ecstacy spacecraft”. The way home I remember listening to Benny and the Jets alongside my compadres and life was just awesome. Life is like that when you are in MAST. There is no way around having your life become completely awesome when you are involved in this program. So be prepared..Warn your friends that waking up at noon and playing mariogolf on N64 isnt gonna cut it anymore. Your awesomeness will glisten out of every pour. your aura will be a vibrant tie-dye. The tone of B-flat will hum where ever you go and everybody’s heart Chakras will open wide in your presence.