Am I Scared? First Descents Is Back Again



I did a stupid thing. I sat up on top of the Cliff Lodge and pretended it was like I was back in high school where I could stretch out on a lounge chair, flip through a Cosmo and soak up the sun. Less than an hour later my upper thighs are on fire. Even my chest got fried despite the SPF 50 I slapped on. I needed this morning of chill. I blew up at Ryan, and Sage was hitting the back of my leg in response to the anger. I snapped her up and forcefully plopped her on my bed, making her cry. All hell was swirling. I feel like I can’t get in front of the 8 ball. Ever since Punta Cana I’ve been playing catch up without success. Looking ahead 10 days I’ll be back home and can breathe again. I will do nothing but hunt for a new laptop, write and climb. Maybe kayak too. I don’t see me pulling a C to C on account of the ATV crushing my ribs but at least I can paddle.

I wonder if I’m doing the right thing going on another First Descents trip; not because I’m taking advantage of the offering- an all-expense paid whitewater kayak adventure on the Flathead River in Glacier National Forest- but because I may not be welcome. That ‘chat’ I had with Whitney (one of the FD organizers) questioning whether FD was the right place for me really rattled my ego. Like a breakup from a guy when I thought things were going well, I thought, “Huh?” I wouldn’t have signed up for a second camp if I didn’t get something out of the camp last year. It was my feedback. It’s got to be. Perhaps they’re used to only hearing raves. Who would say anything negative when they get it for free? But I was critical- like I always am- not in a bad way or so I thought- but I offered up some constructive feedback that a company looking to forever improve should want to hear. I’m guessing they took it as me attacking their program; which I wasn’t. I explained that of course I had an amazing time why else would I want to attend again? My sole gripe was that I felt forced to bond and share emotions. I just wanted to meet new friends (who have something in common) and learn to kayak. I wasn’t looking for therapy.

This is the first year in 11 that FD will host camps for 2nd timers. The first year- just get them down the river. Young cancer survivors testing their determination and living in the moment instead of dwelling on cancer. Many were introduced to something they never in their life thought they would be doing. Now, the second year- turn them into kayakers. The staff is excited about the new offering and so am I. To start up where I left off. Physically, not emotionally. To hone in more time on the river. But I may be entering hostile waters…and Konvict is our leader again. History. It may not be a good thing in this case. It was his job last year to force bonds and make us all share with those nightly campfire chats and I’m pretty sure he told Whitney that I often checked out. She called and we talked. She said that maybe this time around I should tell everyone that I’m an introvert when it comes to sharing emotions so no one takes it personally. I’m more nervous about the group stuff than I am about the paddling. Gulp.


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