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Paddling alone has always been a big tabu in the kayaking community. It is dangerous and scary, mostly because if something happens to you nobody will know, so nobody will come to help. But sometimes it is the only option to paddle. I’m from the Basque Country, north Spain, and here we have no many rivers, what means that our kayaking community is pretty small.

Here most of the people does slalom kayaking, what is a big discipline ( we even have an olympic champion in the city), but creeking is just a thing of 5 “crazy” guys who are always moving to the Pyrenees in spring searching for harder whitewater. We only have water in our rivers when it rains hard, so what happens very often is that when it rains hard it rains too hard, so the rivers use to be too high for average kayakers.
This is a problem for me because it makes hard to find a partner for kayaking when the rivers are with the best flows. For the last years I have started paddling alone in my home river, the Leitzaran, a class IV+ river with some few class V sections. There are about 3 other kayakers who normally join me for this run, but before when they could’nt paddle I used to stay at home scared of being alone in the river.

The last years I felt that my comfort zone in the river has gone way further than it used to be and nowadays I’m loving doing some solo runs. The kayaking changes a lot when you are by yourself, you just focus in the river, the next rapids and it’s dangers, the line you gonna take, your flow while paddling, trying to feel smooth all the time, and an important thing, you don’t have to care about nobody else. Fuck, I love this feelings.

It’s not that I just want to do solo runs now, no way. For me the essence of whitewater kayaking is in sharing a run with friends, helping each other, putting your life in your friends hand, making our way down together, planning the trip, the journey to the river and the talks after the run.

But you don’t always have a friend to paddle with, and right now I’m also loving this days alone in the river.

Here you have a long video of myself paddling the Leitzaran. No edit, no cuts, just a run like it is, with the only sound of the river, maybe you can get a portion of the feelings that I feel.

– Mikel Arrizabalaga