This post starts with a story about one of Phil’s first students, and our good friend, Pete. The two met in 1984 while Phil was teaching at Otter Bar Kayak School. Each year Pete liked to try a vacation that was more about challenge than relaxing. This particular year it was kayaking, the year before it had been desert survival school. You get the picture. When it came to kayaking, let’s just say that Pete took to the sand better than he did the water. Back then all the boats at the school were made by Perception, most of them being Dancers. The color choices were limited so you either had students in red boats or blue boats. That meant if someone went upside down and you didn’t see it happen, you weren’t always sure who it was. Not with Pete. His capsize was usually accompanied by a brief but effective expletive (didn’t want to use up all of his air) followed by the appropriate sweeping of the hands along the length of the boat for a bow rescue, just as he had been taught. The difference was that Pete only extended one particular finger on each hand to signal his urgency. Pete, I’m on my way!
It was five years before Pete tried kayaking again. This time it was on the Rogue in southern Oregon where Phil also worked for Sundance Kayak School. Neither one knew the other was going to be there that week. Perhaps Phil was a better teacher, or all of Pete’s hot tub time over the last five years paid off, because he took to the sport and it took to him. For a time he was taking classes at both schools each year until he settled on a schedule of the California Salmon in the spring, and a trip with us to the Middle Fork Salmon or Grand Canyon later in the season.
Needless to say, we have had many enjoyable river miles with Pete and he has been a long time frequent paddler. Despite this, in all of his years of instruction and trips, he had never ventured out of the country to paddle. As a matter of fact, his only time out of the country was a stint in the service in Panama- not much of a vacation. That all changed this year when he joined us in Ecuador on the December 1-9 class III+ trip, and plans to join us in Bhutan in 2008. How was his trip to Ecuador this year? He just informed us he plans to return again next season. It’s never too late to get the travel bug.
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