Heading Into Checkpoint #1
(I was still alone at this point)
Heading Out of the Cove
Check Point #4
Bev's On The Water
Eric, Rick, me, Ursula (road crew), Travis, Dave
The South Dakota Kayak Challenge promoters promised wild water, open skies, and a big challenge. It was all that. There were those that came to compete. There were those who came to paddle and camp for several days. And, finally there were those who pushed their limits with their only goal to finish in one day despite demoralizing winds.
I was privileged to fall into the latter group....and, what I came away with (along with some screaming muscles) was an amazing observation of human nature. We were spread out over 72 miles - but by the 2nd checkpoint most of us had found 'partners', and by the 3rd checkpoint no
one was paddling alone anymore. Winds (20 - 30 mph SSE headwinds the ENTIRE day with long gusts up to 40 - 45 mph), fatigue, motor boat traffic, sandbars, wing dam currents (especially fun at night - not!), temperatures in the 90s, and finally darkness, took it's toll. I don't think anyone consciously intended to form groups - but we did. Everyone of us.
I can say that I wouldn't have made it without my travel companions - Nathan Edwards and Eric Hart. These guys were an answer to prayer, and we managed to keep laughing.....knowing that the rest of the gang waited at the finish line was also a motivator.
New experiences bring new memories and new knowledge. But, I've always known that we all need each other to get through this journey called life....
Oh, yeah - it happens that I was fortunate enough to place 3rd for women soloists. The first two were 'racers'; I was much more fortunate to be a 'grouper'. :)