On a roll, kind of

Charles AgarAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Despite another month’s shreddability on local ski hills, Sunday was the kickoff of the whitewater kayak season for me: a solemn, ceremonial first wetting of my long-neglected boat.Granted, it was in chlorinated pool water at the Aspen Recreation Center, but it still counts.I paused at water’s edge like a sadhu on the bank of the Ganges, then scooped some water over my head, splashed my lifejacket, then spritzed the prow of the boat.The river god is at once cruel and loving. Where Santa knows when you are sleeping, etc., the river god seems to know when you are confident and knows when you are scared, and punishes with vicious, sticky holes that treat kayaks like a washing machine treats a hanky – or rewards with all-day surfing waves and pretty women watching from the riverbank.The river god gently pats my helmet with rocks when I’m upside down in a big rapid, just to remind me he’s in charge, and grants passage through tricky stretches if I am sufficiently humble.I can only hope my ablutions pleased him.The Aspen Kayak School holds weekly kayak roll clinics at the ARC, and though I missed Sunday’s class, I was able to get in the pool for an hour of “playtime” afterward. A good chance to twist out those kinks in shoulders and elbows that spent the winter doing little more than poling me along ski area catwalks when not doing aggressive curls with overstuffed sandwiches.And I’m not sure if the sandwiches had anything to do with it, but it seems all of my kayak gear shrank a little in the off season. I might write a letter to the manufacturers about their “gear shrink” problem.It felt great to paddle around a bit, though. And my first rolls of the season weren’t pretty, but they worked.And it was good to meet a few paddlers, likely some of the fellow wack jobs who’ll be out on the rivers this spring paying homage to that kind and punishing god.