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The First Solo (Kayak) Tour Pt. 2 – Strolls Down Memory Lane

“I have to get off the water, NOW!” I think as the first lightning bolt flashes across the sky.

The sound of my desperate paddling mixes with the noise of the storm. “Great, first kayaking trip and here I go, straight into a frigging THUNDERSTORM while on an effing LAKE!”

I bolt for a small beach at the edge of a fir-factory forest. I drag the kayak onto the sand, out of the water. It hasn’t started raining yet, but the wind is already giving me a good lashing. “Probably for being so stupid not to check the weather report when I saw all the other boats scurrying off,” I mutter. I set my tent just as the rain begins to pour.

I send out my GPS location. “As if that’s going to help,” I think. That’s when I hear, through the roars of thunder and cracks of lighting, something much, much closer.

It’s the sound of branches breaking.

The trees in these made-for-plywood forests all share the same features: they are weak, dry, and unhappy creatures, waiting for their short life in the monoculture to end. They’re grown to keep your local IKEA in business – not withstand a thunderstorm strong enough to blow a kayak around.

“Bot damn it!!!” I curse, crawling out of the tent. In the beam of my flashlight I see matchstick thin trees moving as if slapped by a giant hand. The clap of lightning and roar of thunder overlap almost perfectly. Twigs fall into my hair, and the wind blows sand into my eyes. The tree right next to my tent begins to groan and bend and –


An hour later, I’m lying in my sleeping bag, weeping with relief. The storm has passed.

Neither the branches, nor trees that came down hit my tent, or my kayak.

The next day, I pack up and head straight back to the rental.”You’re back early!” The woman greets me. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and I look like I’ve seen visions of my own thunderstruck, burnt-to-a-crisp corpse. “You okay there, honey?”

“I had enough,” I mumble as I climb out of the kayak as fast as I can.

I’ve heard it takes a lot of courage to push one’s comfort zone.

I’d say it takes even more courage to make mistakes and then:

To try again.

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