Where do I start? Last week was something.

First off, there was a lot of preparation for that float trip. I did a LOT of preparation. I tried to think of everything I could possibly ever need. I got all of that stuff together and carefully packed it away to take on the trip.

Of course, once we arrived at the campsite miles from anything, no cell signal, no people around, there was immediately a situation we were not prepared for.

But, there were, at least, no deal-breakers in the “not-quite-ready-for-prime-time” bag of tricks. What was not prepared for was merely some inconvenience and irritation.

What really strikes me is that there is just no way to replace experience with preparation.

This was my first crack at a true wilderness kayaking trip. I read about it, I made lists (that I seemed to misplace), I thought about all the things that could go wrong and planned how to avoid or recover from them.

But, for all of that stuff (which probably saved me tons of grief) I didn’t manage to cover all the bases.

I was much less comfortable trying to sleep. I needed another layer between my old bones and the hard ground in order to get anything resembling good rest.

In addition to that, a bunch of clothes wadded up in the hood of my sleeping bag was not even close to the pillow I needed to prop up my melon.

So, the first morning out, I felt like someone hit me with a shovel all night long and the second morning I felt like they had given up with the shovel and started smacking me with a sledge hammer.

I still have some spots that feel bruised just because the weight of my body pressing against them on the rocky ground produced a soreness I have not experienced before.

Experience. There’s that word again.

I really wanted to plan so well that it compensated for my lack of experience taking a trip like this one that goes off the grid.

Well, here’s one thing my experience taught me, I LOVE the grid!!!! Don’t let anyone talk you into voluntarily leaving it.

I have some experience with this river and what it takes to do it better. But, I’m not sure that even if I prepared perfectly and executed flawlessly I could enjoy it immensely.

No matter how you do this thing, it is difficult and uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some tremendous moments along this little adventure. Hearing the rushing water announce there was white water ahead, seeing eagles soaring above, hoot owls echoing through the night air, waterfalls crashing from the cliffs, I hope those things are etched firmly in my memory right at this moment.

Of course, I want the beautiful rainbow trout to be etched as well, since all the photographs I took of everything met an untimely demise. I will probably elaborate on that part tomorrow.

I guess, though, that at this point I plan to limit my future kayaking to simpler, less extreme stuff that doesn’t get too far from the comforts of my camper and the local convenience store.

I did get some good experience, though. I just haven’t been able to process what it will be good for.

One thing is for certain, if a man wants a little excitement in his life, it is as close as the local wilderness. Just remember, not all excitement is the same thing as fun! Sometimes excitement is losing something important, or maybe not so important but expensive.

But, most of my injuries over the days on the river were not from crashing into boulders or falling on slick rocks. Most of them were from sleeping on such hard ground so I guess that is a plus feature.

I’m glad to be home. Maybe that is the real takeaway from all of this. A good old boring day at my house with nothing interesting going on and no excitement to get the adrenaline flowing and no obstacles to conquer isn’t such a bad thing once in a while.

Experience. This trip was certainly an experience. I do know one thing about experience. It is only valuable if you use it for something. I suspect that this trip gave me some experience that will be valuable on the next trip even if from now on I float lazily along a slow tailwater dangling flies in front of hungry trout.

And, if I ever hear anyone talk about tackling what I tackled last week, I may be able to make it less painful for them and it will be easier to enjoy the beauty of the trip without being distracted by kicking themselves in the backside for goofing something up along the way.

In my life, I have experienced a lot of things I feel like I had best not experienced. But, here I am, still recovering from some of those things. I suppose my recovery will last until my experiences end on this planet.

Maybe the key to a successful life isn’t in not experiencing hard and painful things but surviving them all and learning to use them to make future experiences more fruitful.

One thing I is for sure, if I recover the right way, the chaff will blow away from my memories and the value of what I experienced will remain.

Isn’t that an amazing thing? I mean, almost a week ago, all I could think of was how hard the ground was, how hot the sun was and how expensive those things that lay at the bottom of the river were going to be to replace. But, already, those thoughts are fading and I have to dig for them a little bit while the memories of one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever seen is coming to the forefront and overtaking all the discomfort and frustration.

I may not (more than likely not) ever take that trip again, it will be because I like my bed and air conditioning too much to wear myself out and NOT because I am afraid to give it a shot.

And, if I choose to never do it again, I will know what I am missing. That’s worth a lot right there. There’s a lot to be said about “been there, done that”!

There are a lot of people that sit on their sofas telling us what they think about our experience without knowing anything about what it is like to actually do it.

I think we have to just file those folks in the “no clue” category and move on with a grin. When they get off their backsides and go see what it is all about, then their opinion can get access to our thoughts on the subject.

Well, that’s my rambling for today. Tomorrow’s writing will be more organized and have a point and all that stuff. But today, I am kind of just clearing my head for the week ahead.

Until the next time, happy floating!

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2 thoughts on “Experience

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