If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it. - Ronnie Lott
Warm sweat trickles down my spine, eyes closed, not by choice but the product of crippling pain that stabs into my hip. Like a serrated blade slowly working its way between the joints, severing the tendons and muscles on its jagged path to my core. Weak underused, under conditioned muscles throb in the strenuous overuse. There are no gym workouts or preventative measures that could have prepared a body for such misuse. But this is why we do it. This physical self-induced punishment is what pulls my frozen body from the cold hard ground beneath the canvas of my tent each and every morning. This pain, this suffering, is what makes my heart beat a little stronger each and every day. We do it because pain is temporary and the there is no supplement for the greatest moral achievement obtained at the finishing line. A sickening addiction to success. In the end it will be worth it, in the end we will prevail, only if of course we do make it…. in the end.
I can feel every gram of weight pushing against the paddle, stroke after stroke, inch after inch, foot after foot, mile after mile; we creep along the second largest lake on the river. Lake Hume, horribly long, shallow, and stagnant. There’s not the slightest current or luff of wind in our sails to aid the 40km crossing, however what there always seems to be is a consistent wind blowing in our faces. Fortunately persistence pays off and upon reaching the weir; we catch up with the duo kayaking women we’ve been hearing about from riverside spectators for the past week. “Only a couple days ahead” I heard so many times. KK and Jen, incredibly wise in respect to lightweight gear and all around good company to share a camp fire hot chocolate with. Our first night together around the picnic tables never aloud room for a dull conversation while everyone tried to slip a word in sideways. I think we were all a bewildered that there happened to be other crazy people in the world doing the same trip at the same time.
All was bliss, jolly, and wonderful. All until of course, the phone call. KK was arranging a trailer portage for all of our boats around the dam when she heard the news. She hung up her phone and we all fell silent in anticipation to her blank expression. “A twenty four year old girl was swept out of her kayak yesterday. They found the boat and a shredded life jacket hundreds of meters apart. The body hasn’t been recovered yet” A dark silence fell upon the room as we all looked back into our own memories of the place we had narrowly navigated just a week prior. No words needed to be exchanged, no acknowledgement of sorrow needed to be confirmed. We were all just lucky. Subconsciously we all knew how dangerous this endeavour really was and this new news was a horrible reminder of what the consequences can be. As I look out into the twinkling of dusk falling upon the rippled water the peace and serenity are dully noticed, I appreciate the peace but I’m aware of this creature’s hidden anger. Another sunset and another life consumed by its deep and dark undergrowth. Be kind dear river, be kind. Gide me from your source to your end, Il show you respect and you show me the way. Be kind to me. Be kind.