Fear, control it, conquer it, but never forget it.

A day I will not forget in a hurry. I started a training run, the intention was to paddle from the outer part of the fjord in the west towards the inner fjord in the east. Intended was a half marathon distance, @22km. 10km paddling towards blue skies and little wind in my face all was good. At 10km on the gps I then turned north to cross the fjord, glancing out to the west as I crossed the skies were quickly darkening,  The forecast was rain later in the day but not thunder and lightning as it soon turned out to be, and plenty of it. I love thunder and lightning, but not when I am the water. With no place to land as the parts of the fjord are too steep, I paddled back towards the start point, thinking I could make it before it got bad, I didn't, an extremely fast  crossing of around 1.2-1.5 km was made in record time. The crossing was terrifying, with ever clap of thunder I felt the tension in my body, even freezing, unable to paddle a couple of times. Then the lightning opened up, a small kayak on a wide open area is an easy target and statistically the worst place to be in a thunder storm is on the water.

There was no point in panic, I quickly noticed that I was much stiffer, movement was restricted as I let fear overpower me. Consciously taking in large volumes of air while relaxing my body in order to paddle was difficult but it had to be done. Fuelled by adrenalin, I am sure it took less than 5 minutes to cross over 1km. As I reached land, a small stony beach with a small boathouse close by. I dropped the carbon paddle into the kayak and hands and legs still shaking grabbed my emergency shelter, coffee and food. Sitting in my emergency shelter close to some trees I was possibly still vulnerable, but once inside, coffee in my hand, I enjoyed the next half hour looking out the small window, and as I listened to the thunder, the rain hitting hard against the emergency shelter, a hypnotic and relaxing sound that I do like, Lightning lighting up the skies like I have never seen before, I knew that luck was probably on my side and even though I had checked the forecast several times before paddling, it was a huge reminder that no matter how much planning and preparation, you still have to be prepared for all possibilities. After the storm passed, returning to my car, a slow paddle close to the shoreline, even as the skies turned blue, some fear was still lingering, but a small dose of fear is acceptable, when the fear takes a grip as it started to do earlier, it will only worsen a situation. Overcoming that emotion, controlling it, even conquering it can make a difference between life and death.

 

 

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