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The Day before EJ’s 50th birthday we paddled the river at super low water and spent over 2 hours at Muts Nuts – what an awesome wave! I had never been lucky enough to have more than one or two rides at time on it before, so it was fun to exhaust myself there and surf another incredible Nile wave. I tried to get some good photos of EJ surfing on his last day of being 49, and I really hope I am doing even some of what he is doing when I am 49 and 50. I guess I have 4 years to train for it. This year, I have really noticed an increase in the recovery time I need between strenuous activities and on some days, as much as I want to keep up and try to do everything I can in terms of paddling, my body has other ideas. One of the great things about paddling with EJ is not only seeing what he does and tries, but also knowing that no matter what, you will get stronger if you can even attempt to keep pace with his schedule.

There was no exception for EJ’s birthday. The whole day was about games and playing as many of them as possible on and off the water! If you survived all the game playing you would definitely be stronger – no question! So after a low water club session in the morning, which was preceded by Frisbee golf around the Hairy Lemon, there was banana grams followed by lunch. In the afternoon, everyone paddled some kind of craft other than a kayak up to Nile Special and multiple rounds of surfing began – this included rafts, inflatable mattresses, sit on top kayaks, and very long and old kayaks! It was incredibly fun and an incredibly good work out to swim the Nile Special wave train multiple times. At one point, I went out with Katya and Pringle to surf Nile Special. Pringle was launched out of the boat and Katya and I surfed the little raft in Nile Special totally out of control for a good 30 seconds. I was immediately taken back to my days of guiding on the Zambezi – surfing rafts uncontrollably in big whitewater! It was so much fun I could not stop laughing!

Katya and I actually made it back to the eddy without flipping but that was the only time for me. The next time, I surfed with Kalob in the little red raft and we spent a lot of time surfing and swimming Nile Special rapid trying to repeat the great surf that Katya and I had had. After that, I went out with EJ and for the first time ever in the entire time I have known EJ, he made a disclaimer, “I apologize ahead of time if something bad happens!” That was totally funny because I thought that he might actually be worried, and then we proceeded to have a good surf in Nile Special followed by a nice power flip in Bells rapid just behind it.
After getting to shore, I saw EJ paddling up the eddy on the other side of the river – clearly the past 50 years did not include raft guiding and having to collect all your crew after a flip, and I found myself wondering how I was going to get back up to the top since we were pretty darn far downstream. Suddenly, Dane and Kalob appeared in the sit on top and the three of us tried to paddle it up to the top of the rapid. This might have been the funniest part of the day for me because we flipped over twice just paddling up the eddy! I don’t even know how it happened in virtually flat water with a little current. After that, I really could not stop laughing. Needless to say I drank a lot of the Nile that day – mostly from laughing as I was floating in the river. Lots and lots of fun on the water for EJ’s fiftieth was had by all, not soon to be forgotten! And the party continued…stay tuned for part two of EJ’s 50th!