2019 was another amazing year of kayaking.
Attending an Independent Study school at the base of Squaw Valley has been an awesome experience, especially for middle school. I spent 6th, 7th and now 8th grade excelling at school, skiing what has seemed like endless powder days, and traveling to kayak. I have loved Creekside Charter School and will miss the freedom when I go to high school next year.
Last school year, in 7th Grade, I kicked off 2019 with an amazing trip to the Futaleufu. Our friends at BioBio Expeditions have a beautiful camp, with delicious food and some of the best kayakers in the world. My favorite parts of the trip were kayaking Bridge to Bridge and the Wild Mile and rafting Inferno Canyon. As usual, my dad got some odd responses from folks who thought maybe I shouldn’t be out kayaking or rafting those sections at 12 years old. Fortunately for me, Nouria and Ben did not hesitate to show me the lines. And once I did it safely, then other kids started realizing that they could do it too. I think their parents finally got excited about it after they saw that we actually had the skills to do this.
|Bridge to Bridge with Nouria|
|Love the Futaleufu|
When I returned from the Futaleufu, I joined Waterwerks Kayak Club for a trip to San Macros. This group of teenage boys and their Coach drove all the way from Calgary to Texas and picked me up in Denver on the way. That’s how much they love kayaking and how badly they are seeking warmth in the heart of winter. Although I was, as usual, the youngest and the only girl, we had a lot of fun kayaking together and playing at the Whitewater Park.
Another Spring, Another Year of High Water South Fork American River and the Truckee
Spring 20019 was huge in California. We had a big winter, so the rivers were very high. Now, I love high water. Like I really love it. So, we had a blast. Spring Break was spent at the Tiny House with various kayak friends visiting. I got to kayak with Carson Lindsay, which was cool. He’s not only a great kayaker but he’s also very safety conscious. And as we got increasingly comfortable with these new high water levels, my parents finally allowed my cousin and me to do “kid only” laps. He’s not really a kid anymore (he was 16 years old at the time and now old enough to drive shuttle, which my parents seem to think is awesome!). I did have one incident I’d rather not repeat, which was swimming Trouble Maker on the South Fork American River at 6,000 CFS. Athan and I used our swiftwater rescue skills and worked together to contain the situation and stay safe.
|Big Water South Fork Spring 2019|
|Boating with local boater, Carson Lindsay!|
As Spring turned into Summer, more teens started showing up and we all started doing teen laps together. Not sure who felt freer, us or our parents 🙂
I decided to have my 13th Birthday at the Tiny House and invited my non-boater friends to come on the river. To prepare I went back to my whitewater roots and spent a week with my parents teaching me how to paddle guide a raft again. I had learned at Junior Guides camp back when I was 8 years old, but since then I have mostly kayaked, inflatable kayaked, paddle boarded, or rowed. It was a blast for everyone.
Another Summer, Another Keener Camp
I LOVE KEENER CAMP! This was my 2nd year and it was even more awesome than my first year. My cabinmates were the best. And so were the coaches. This year I had a crazy surf at Right Side Phils and am proud to have won the Red Ribbon for my beatdown. Dane was coaching that day and made a video which shows how fun Keeners is. My beatdown is in the video and my parents got a lot of concerned feedback on social media about their parenting because of this video and the footage which Steve-O posted. People don’t seem to understand that we build up to doing things like this – last year I only did left side Phils and spent all of Session 3 this year preparing to finally do this! Here’s a link to the video – I’m the last few minutes, after the music and editing stops. Best Day of the Week
Dane also took us “rafting” – if that’s what you call repeatedly flipping on purpose. I felt really lucky to be one of the four Keeners who got to do this.
I was having so much fun that this year I decided at the last minute to stay for Competition Week instead of going home to start school. Comp week was the best week ever. Even my parents say it’s everything they love about kayaking – a tight night community of river loving people of various ages and abilities all going out together and learning from each other. I also loved that it was just a few of us in camp and it felt like we were home.
|“1st Day of School” – On the Ottawa instead!|
Fall Back on the South Fork American River
I love Fall in Coloma. It’s warm but not scorching hot like it can be. And the river is perfect and quite – summers on the river in Coloma can get crazy busy with rafts everywhere. River and non-river friends visit. This year we had a River Festival in Coloma. I raced the adult race in my kayak and then raced the kid race in an inflatable. I took a non-river friend along. And we won! We even beat Sue Norman – my coach and former national champion. She was proud of us, I know, but she can be (quietly) competitive so I could tell she had tried her best to beat us.
|Coloma Community Celebration!|
My little brother is a surprisingly excellent whitewater rower and has tiny, kid-sized cat that he takes his friends on. Though it’s a bit too small for me, I got to row it when his classmates came to our Tiny House for a field trip and wanted to do the more challenging stretches of the river.
You’d think their parents would be concerned about it, but they seemed to trust me since just a few days before the field trip our local newspaper published an article about me and whitewater. Here’s the link to the article. Newspaper Article
I also went back to the Moke races this year and won. Unfortunately, I was not able to go Feather Fest this year due to a family emergency.
Canoe Kayak Canada
For the fall, my dad had considered taking me on a Love It Live It trip to kayak the Zambezi. But in the end, my dad decided he wasn’t up for it since he hasn’t been spending much time in his kayak over the past several years (he mostly rafts to be able to take my mom, brother, dog, friends, gear, etc down the river). So instead we decided to postpone until Fall 2020 when I’m a little older (I will have turned 14 by then) and we can go on a BioBio trip. That way he can row or paddle guide while I kayak.
So, suddenly I had “free time” in the fall for other adventures. The timing was perfect, as we learned about the Canoe Kayak Canada NextGen slalom training program. My mother is Canadian, which is why it makes sense. And my parents think gate training – whether it be for skiing or kayaking – is a great way to learn skills that carry over to other versions of the sport. I think it’s fun to practice and to race.
I went to camps and races in Ottawa, Valleyfield, and Chilliwack. The coaching was really amazing, as were the athletes. Many of them are on the Canadian National Team and some are training for the Tokyo Olympics. Though it’s a bit hard when everyone knows each other so well from their local clubs (Canada has these great local and provincial clubs) and when most of the athletes are at such an elite level, I enjoyed my time training with them and made some good progress.
Also, I just love kayak traveling. Especially on my own. It’s a hassle at airports and getting on planes with a kayak (especially a big one) and being a minor, but I like the process and I do get a lot of school work done.
|I love Amex Airport Lounges!|
As winter came, so did the holidays, And although winters living in Squaw Valley are all about skiing, holiday gifting brings back the kayak-theme. I got a new, bigger Rockstar 4.0 and a Foamie Friend! Foamie Friends are very popular in California 🙂
And so, that was 2019. Another epic kayak year.
2020 is off to a great start too! I joined the California Junior Women’s Raft Team and we hope to be selected to be the US Team at Team Trials in June. I’m also headed to France to kayak for a month which will be amazing.