Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Little Brothers Need Big Rapids

So my not so little brother Mitch Ford, from my days in Big Brothers Big Sisters outside of Chicago, Illinois, and his 7 family members came out to vacation in Colorado last week. I couldn't have been happier to meet up with this action seeking family of 8 brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents. I remember the days when Mitch was a spunky 11 year old who could turn a soccer ball on a dime. Mitch has been working up in the Great Lakes last year and is looking forward to potentially starting college next year.
He indirectly taught me alot about growing up that I had forgotten. Number one, even with a solid family, I reflected that growing up is tough between the pressures of being a good student, being a good athlete, and still being a teenager. There is pressure in our young lives from every direction....pressure to go to college, pressure to be popular, pressure to be a good citizen, pressure to become independent, pressure to be a good son....endless pressure buffered by lots of unconditional love from our parents. Just maybe all that pressure works out and we all turn out just right. Mitch sure has and I'm very proud of him even with my short time knowing him as an 11 year old. Let's all take the time with our own siblings to be a good big and little brother to each other hey?

He's grown to over 6 foot tall I couldn't fit him into the front of my new Jackson Kayak Dynamic Duo tandem whitewater kayak so he jumped in with his brothers and sisters in the mega raft for a run down one of Colorado's classic late summer class 3 runs...Lower Gore Canyon near the headwaters of the legendary Colorado River. This section was packed with late season rafters, duckier's, fly fisherman, drift boats, and my favorite part of this stretch...bald eagles waiting patiently for their next meal.

There is something very human about the lure of rafting and kayaking that sucks us all in. As you see in the video link below, rapids are a metaphor of life...all good things start with a very calm peace with tranquil surroundings in the standing pool above every rapid, your thoughts then rush together as you eye the point of conflict as the pressure converges to one critical point, your pulse quickens and teeth grind. It is then that that peace returns in the crux move of the rapid as you eye your escape. The violent bouncing up and down and side to side lessens and you accelerate choosing each stroke placement (aka word choice) carefully and, if you respect the power of that point of conflict, the rapid rewards you and returns you to the ensuing calm with a sense of accomplishment that is yours and yours alone. The more conflicts we survive, the more unstoppable we all become. In life, it is our choice of words that equate to our choice of each stroke. Even the right stroke at the wrong time proves to be catastrophic.

As my teammate once said it best, gravity and moving water...otherwise known as your judge and jury. This run was all smiles at medium water levels and the Fords/Cuervos and their trusty 1970's throwback guide Mike ran this run like champs.

Adventure runs deep in this family as even Mitch's grandpa was egging for some more big wave hits at the takeout. Next year, they are sure to come back earlier in the summer to take on Brown's Canyon near Salida although that stretch was too low for an August 1 launch. See the action for yourself at !

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