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

Admittedly, the Nordkapp ride wasn’t my first solo outdoor trip – a kayak tour was.

I found the inspiration for the tour in “Walden” magazine despite not fitting into its target group: bearded men with flannel shirts, who would like to own a home-made knife, but will never actually use said knife outside their gentrified neighborhoods, because flat whites just can’t be found out on mountaintops.

But who am I to judge. I, too, love an overpriced flat white in a hipster cafe.

And I like any reference to Walden lake.

Which is why I bought the magazine. I was particularly enchanted by a well-designed booklet taped to its front: “Where To Paddle On The Spree (the riverways around Berlin)”.

I chose a tour that would take 2-3 days, went to my local outdoor store, bought two waterproof storage bags, and off I went. The straps of the bags cut into my shoulders as I hopped from train, to bus to get to the rental I’d chosen as my starting point.

The woman at the rental watched in amused silence as I tried to wriggle my luggage into the front of my bright red rental kayak. “Do you know what you’re doing there, love?”

As I pushed myself off the pier, I replied: “……absolutely!”

As to be expected, I went off-route at the next riverbend. It was windy, sunny, and clouds billowing ahead. I chatted with ducks, but mostly with myself. Because even though the weather was great, the paddling no challenge, and the water calm: I was scared.

I wasn’t used to being alone. Being able to choose what to do, where to go, how fast, how slow – all those choices, all that freedom left me feeling paralyzed rather than liberated.

As the sun set and darkness crept up on me, I just wanted retreat, and in the safety of my comfort zone forget about how much this small paddling exercise had freaked me out. I didn’t want to push any more limits. I had nothing to prove. And now that I was out here on a lake, with no one around (most boats had scuttled off for unknown reasons an hour ago) – I couldn’t recall why I had gone kayaking all on my own in the first place.

Who was going to protect me if something went wrong?

And then the the thunderstorm struck.

PS: Memory Lane Zipcode: This story was originally lived through back in the summer of 2018.

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