Sep 6, 2013 / 5:00 am
I believe that before you can truly appreciate the blisters of someone else you have to suffer your own.
Hello my name is Jackie, and Mark who usually writes this column is my husband. He is currently in the middle of a fundraising expedition for our Charity Rally4Life so I have stepped in to fill his shoes. For the first time I also stepped in to join the expedition. You see, normally he conducts his adventures overseas, paragliding around Australia, climbing Kilimanjaro etc.. I am not made of such adrenaline fuelled flesh and blood, so I stay home, keep things moving along here and cheer form the sidelines. However he has currently undertaken an adventure on his back door step with friend Peter Dodenhoff. SUP4Life is a Stand UpPaddle circumnavigation of Okanagan Lake. All 250km, from Kelowna up to Vernon and beyond, then down past Fintry to Westbank, Summerland, Penticton and then on Sunday back up to Kelowna. He is thoroughly enjoying himself and just soaking in all the beauty surrounding us. The goal of the project is to raise $15,000 for a well in a drought ridden community in Northern Kenya where people have to walk an average of 8km a day in the search for water. Being able to spend each day paddling the beautiful clear waters of our lake just emphasizes the inequality.
Today I was fortunate enough to be able to join them. By the bridge I took a bold, wobbly step into our old monstrous kayak and set off with a fierce determination to “keep up”. I have watched them paddle into view at the end of each day and it brings a lump to my throat that they would give up their time and money to try and make a difference. Sometimes, having covered up to 45km, they are quite exhausted, but their paddling is steady and rhythmical, so I try to emulate their style and tenacity. It is not so warm today, it is choppy and blustery as we set out under the bridge and my nervousness inspires a furious pace, one I can’t hope to maintain. I have never paddled more than a few kilometers before and their goal today is Peachland. I am deeply concerned that I will slow then down and interfere with their goals. Quickly my arms start to tire and I realize I must pace myself. I try to relax and find a comfortable position. I start to enjoy myself and then Mother nature interferes. Thunder behind us, we are cutting across the bay to The Cove, our lunch destination, when the wind whips up and lightning flashes uncomfortably close. The guys are encouraging me to move it, we need to get off the water! I am talking to my GoPro camera the whole time, it acts as a distraction and I manage to keep calm and keep paddling. I am exhausted by the exertion when we stop for lunch and I could easily call it a day and get picked up from here, but our goal was Peachland and my goal was to be a part of things. I want a story to tell, so with the rain still falling and the lightning still illuminating the sky I reluctantly get back in the boat on the condition that we stay close to shore.
The journey takes on an eerie beauty as we glide past the cliffs on this unspoiled section of shoreline. The water is a greenish grey, the rain isolates us and there is a hush all around. As Peachland comes around the corner I am tiring. We stop for a rest and the team decides we are making good time and should aim for Antler beach, a few kilometers past the town. By Peachland Castle I hit my wall. Usually you focus on a spot and move towards it but suddenly the end is just not getting any closer. I have blisters on both hands, my elbow and wrist are sore and my lower back is very painful because my muscles have been so tense all day. Suddenly I remember wise words from an ultra-marathoner, who on his first race did not think he was ever going to make it to the finish. Then he realized he could probably run 100 more steps, then 100 more. He was actually first across the line and has never looked back since. I decided to start counting. I can tell you that it is 1400 excruciating stokes from Peachland Castle to Antler Beach.
While I was suffering I realized that the term we use to describe this kind of effort is to “dig deep”. It seems very appropriate for a paddle stroke because the deeper you put the paddle and the harder you pull the more effective the stroke. Then I realized the irony of the comparison to what we were trying to achieve with our well project in Africa, how we would have to dig down through the ground to reach clean, fresh water. When I finally pulled up onto the beach I was overtired and my mind got really cheesy and I thought, "I hope that people will dig deep into their pockets to help those less fortunate and make our adventure worthwhile." Please support Peter and Mark in their quest to raise $15,000. They have already raised close to $5,000 and I know they can reach their goal. It will literally give approximately 1,500 people the gift of life in Northern Kenya.
On this trip, Mark decided to rely entirely on lake water for his supply of drinking water. To ensure that he does not get any stomach problems he is using a lifestraw filter. Yesterday he was telling me that it was challenging to stop the paddleboard, get on his hands and knees and drink from the lake. Consequently he was dehydrated on a few occasions... then he started thinking about how a person in one of the communities that we help has to struggle and walk so far to drink water that is so unsafe!
I have to go back to work tomorrow but if you want to donate or follow the rest of the journey, go to www.SUP4Life.ca
Read more The Accidental Journey articles
- A vanishing perspective Dec 6
- Stand out! Nov 29
- Getting our priorities straight! Nov 22
- How to win by coming second Nov 15
- Losers win big Nov 8
- Controlling the outcome of a meeting Nov 1
- Can't see the trees for the forest? Oct 25
- Don't pity - self discipline! Oct 18
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