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February 22, 2009

By Billy Harris

There are many kinds of soul; soul boaters come in different forms. Some
are creekers in Ashville, some are play boaters in Rock Island some are
weekend warriors like the GBKC an un-known club in an unknown part of the
world. The GBKC has got pool session’s group get togethers, parties and
have a great little community.

Each part of the sport, slalom, play, creek, pool session defines who
they/we are as paddlers. So who has the real soul? The GBKC guys work hard
keep a family a job and a home. Get out on weekends and paddle their hearts
out. The Ashville Crowd has the green river. Test their skills against the
river and its many tough lines when it flows. The Slalies work hard, gym
sessions, gates sessions, video feeback and endless hours. But does the play
boater got soul. well this is my day every day.

Its Febuary, I am broke, cold and happy. Its cold this morning, cold in an
American sense vs. what it is at my Canadian Home. One day it was -40 ºc at
my parents place just north of the Ottawa, -40ºc = -40ºF. I look Out the
window at the temp as Carly punches in the tva water level for rock island
Tennessee into the computer the to find out the level for the morning. Carly
and I have been here for about a month now. We get up each day, run make
breakfast and hit the water between 7 and 8am. I say we run but I run every
other day and not on weekends. Carly ran 41 miles last week 65 km’s so
really, carly runs. Mostly I just make her breakfast every morning while
she literally runs her toenails off on some back road dodging the local dogs
and being whistled at by the dam matintenance crew. Early mornings gives us
time to get everything done in a day. I get to work on my pet projects
review video footage and photos as well as have plenty of time for an
afternoon session at the gym and dinner preparation. The water level here is
about 1400. Been that way for a while. With a generator down the play has
been brutal, especially in the morning, ice all over you super cold hands
even with the best gloves. We are lucky we have grips on our H20 paddles
the rubber acts as an insulator. But even they ice up if you’re not careful
to keep your hands on the grips in the same place.

To make sure that you are learning you practice what you are not good at. It’s
been 3 days since carly landed a trick. Now for me I have stuck a few but
it’s been pretty tough going in the cold working on things you are learning.
The wave when its there is pretty small with a very very touchy little
pocket. The pocket is great for loops and cartwheels but it flushes in and
out. I have been relearning the L-R McNasty, blunt-Nasty combo the Felix to
the right and it’s been a tough go. Clay and of got off the water on a cold
day during an afternoon session he looked like a honey glazed donut. He
laughed at me for forgetting my buckles, they froze shut on my lifejacket. I
wore it home.

So back to top. Who has soul? Soul to me or seems to me comes from pushing
yourself mentally, physically to do what you want achieve what you desire.
Ashville, GBKC, pointy boaters or the play boater. Obviously it seems to me
there are different kinds of soul. We all suffer a bit to be able to be on
the water. In a way our soul, is different from one another but, gates,
falls, tricks, not swimming on your day off. Of the bunch the GBKC crew
stands out to me as the group that makes time to paddle, has a real passion
for it but so does the sore bodied slalom paddler or my buddy here icing his
back from helix attempts. But to be honest every group who shares the
sport, play creek or otherwise has their own kind of soul. Each of us with
our own kind of mocheezemo that makes them/we/us a paddler and its that
decision that makes us who we are. Got soul?

PS: Something that affects all of us. Canada is taking our navigation
rights away. The CDN Gov is removing our rights to paddle on the
rivers. Check
out the face book group and join
. We could use all the help we can get up
north, we got a prime minister we call SHRUB.. Our own little bush. Join
the facebook thing it might help.

Billy Harris.

On a mission.

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