On the Day After an Adventure

Yesterday I went kayaking for the first time in a while, and I am reminded of something I had forgotten.  One of my favorite things about kayaking is the feeling you get on the day after the adventure.

You wake up and your muscles are sore.  Your arms are tired from 12 miles of paddling, but it’s a good tired — your biceps and your abs feel more defined.  Your legs are sore from that long uphill bike ride, but you feel so tough for riding all that way in the rain.  Your body is crying out for protein. You went to bed early last night and still need a nap by noon today.

Last night, you dreamed about the river — about those long, white rapids going downhill out in that imposing, isolated canyon.  You find yourself thinking that you’d like to do it again, to retrace your path, to go down the rapids again, just to see if you can make it through one more time.  (Of course you can, but it feels like such a privileged thing to be able to do that you just want to check one more time.) You find yourself watching online videos of the river, trying to relive them all.

You remember a few of the rapids — the Narrows, in particular, now you realize it’s actually below that huge cliff, not above it.  But you still don’t know which one “Soup Strainer” is, the one they talk about in guidebooks. Maybe it’s changed?  And it’s still hard to separate all those rapids in the second half.  How many were there?  Ten?  Fifteen?  You’d like to go back until you can piece them all together, to make each one of them familiar and stand out.  It’s like when you meet a whole bunch of new people at a new job — you enjoyed meeting them and liked them all immediately, but you want to get to know them better and to differentiate them.  It’s the same thing with all of those rapids.

And you’d like to go back with more water, too.  For the summer, 1,100 cubic feet per second will do, but it was even better with 1,900 cfs, and would be even better with about 2,500 cfs.  You wonder what that would look like — probably be even more fun.

How fast could you do the gorge, you wonder?  Could you bomb down without catching any eddies and do it in two hours?  What would that feel like?

And then there was that upstream section.  You paddled down the Indian River to get to the Hudson, on the dam release of water.  When you paddled into the Hudson from the Indian, you looked upstream again and saw the upstream section and wondered what that would be like.  Maybe one day you will try an overnight trip up there.

Your car is a disaster, your gear is wet and you pull it out of the car and hang it to dry on the porch.  You pull your boat off the car, clean it out, and then put it away.  It’s nice to see your gear being used again.  There is a pleasant rhythm to this — cleaning up and putting away gear after an adventure.  It makes you feel like you have accomplished something, you’ve been out banking experience, and now you can live on those memories for a few weeks while you get back to your life.

What a nice feeling — the day after.