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October 3, 2007

Wow, it is time to switch gears one more time, like a rally car coming off the tar to the dirt. I have been racing through 2007 and it has gone by so fast already I can’t believe it. As president of Jackson Kayak, father of two, husband, athlete, having a team, staff, and partner certainly provides me with a variety pack of activities and interests and responsibilities. I treat Jackson Kayak with the attention it needs because so many people depend on it being what it should be, a success. There is so much that goes into that that the kayaker in me needs recharged on a regular basis. Just a few days ago I was competing in the USA National Championships and having a Team JK retreat, playing golf, frizbee golf, and training and competing. We took the freestyle kayak event by storm winning 12 of the 15 medals in the normal classes (pro, junior, c1) We arrived home for one day of meetings and one day of packing for this trip and now I am on a plane with Dane and Nick.

Nick and Dane are watching “Sick Line 3” to get psyched up for some creeking. It is expedition time. We will be probing some new rivers, big drops, and our focus will be very different from being home or on tour. Being in such a remote area, in cold weather, we can’t afford to be careless. This is Dane’s first expedition. Nobody has told me that it is irresponsible to bring him yet. Certainly there is a serious risk on any “adventure”. The definition of Adventure is “any activity where the outcome is unknown”. Like any adventure I go on, I intend to come home in one piece and intend to do what I can to assure that everyone on the trip is also safe. Kristine asked me specifically to make sure that Dane and Nick are OK. That goes without saying, of course. Ben and Jesse will also be there and they are as good as it gets for preparation and experience. Dane is mentally and physically ready to run with the big dogs and if anything, I will be holding him back much more than I would any adult in my group that I was paddling with. He has his whole life to run the hard stuff. He is ready, however, to become an expedition qualified boater. This is something that requires more than paddling skill but also experience. I hope that this trip will bring his mental picture of doing an expedition and reality into synch.

Newfoundland is eastern Canada, an Island, and has lots of water and gradient. The access isn’t expected to be easy as there are no roads to the put-ins and the ocean is the take out of most of the rivers. There is a road that follows the ocean that will be our access for hiking. Darin McQuoid is probing there already and said to expect rainy, colder than expected, windy, weather, with tough hiking and low visibility due to dense underbrush. From the photos I have seen so far it looks like scenes out of Lord of the Rings combined with Mexico. I am hoping to hire a plane when we first arrive to scout out options and plan our runs. We are prepared to hike to the put-ins but would prefer to knock off the runs with the easiest logistics first to get warmed up. Ben and Jesse are coming off of a BC trip and should be well warmed up and ready to “stomp the big ones” as Jesse likes to put it. Nick and Joel are also pretty fresh from their Quebec trip and should be good to go. Dane is simply fired and up is besides himself. I am always in need of a warm up to get into full creeking mode before I go after the big stuff. That could be two days or five days, or one day, hard to say. It took me a few days in Mexico before I was ready and I left right when I was desensitized and ready to do anything.

I look forward to writing after we arrive in Deer Lake, Newfoundland and head out to our first big trip.

Meanwhile- my mind will be focused on creeking. My Rocker is on the plane, along with Nick’s and Dane’s Punk Rocker. We’ll are lucky to have these incredible creekboats from a performance, safety and durability standpoint. Ben and Jesse and Joel are also bringing Rockers and I believe Jesse has the Mega-Rocker.

We all have break down paddles, warm gear, climbing ropes, pin kits, tents, and even have a waterproof sleeping bag! Sweet! With no way to dry gear and daily rain and river, and temps from 30-45 degrees, being wet and not prepared wouldn’t be fun. I think Dane, Nick, and I are covered.

Wish us luck!