Holding seventeen years, I sat on the banks of the river and wished to myself that I could ride with them, those bright little boats bouncing in waves and flying above the water with twists and dramatic styles. But I told myself I never could. And, for whatever reason, believed everyone who enforced the thoughts. My rib was demolished, and over the years it grew more and more painful until it was nearly impossible to inhale. It broke my heart. I hadn’t known such a sour defeat. Rolling a kayak made it considerably worse. And I ultimately accepted that I’d never ride alongside the boaters I admired.
But fate gave change. And in spite of unrelated cruel words and actions – though no thanks to their added pressure – a simple surgery fixed my rib… and I was given a chance. A friend taught me how to roll, and, indirectly, taught me the importance of fighting for life’s greatest lessons, beauties, and values.
I fought. Hard. To the point where I almost destroyed myself at times. What can I say, it was a turbulent point in life and I was and still am incredibly hard on myself. And in three short months I was tackling 30 foot waterfalls and tinkering with the possibility of rekindling dreams I set for myself when I was still a goony kid: Chamberlain Falls.
The five mile course became a symbol of redemption and personal conquest. And one would think that after spending so many years reaching for one goal and fighting so hard for it to a degree where dedication and addiction merge into one chaotic spiral, that at its completion, the doer would be lost. But if that person’s head was in the right place, he or she is far from lost. Instead they see before them in the wake of their success the opportunity to go anywhere they dream.
But minus the insight… it’s a freakin awesome river.
The rapids are technical, but above all they are hazardous. Enter with a humble mind and strong paddling muscles. Have a strong brace. And don’t underestimate the damned class II rapids… they’ll get you. I swear.
Fortunately, most of the rapids are separated by pools or have large eddies, giving you the chance to catch your breath or pick up your pride if it hasn’t floated downriver. But all of the rapids will beat you down if given the chance… full of rocks and sieves and swift currents. I had so many epic braces. I felt legit.
Logistically speaking, Chamby makes its home on the North Fork American in the town of Colfax. It’s only 5 miles long, with a class IV rating for technicality and hazards. DO IT.