Monday, February 06, 2006

Friends in Need, Friends Indeed

Dan Colodney, known to most of the p-net crowd by the moniker “liv2padl”, can take a lot of credit for where I am in terms of my paddling confidence and skills, and most certainly in my love and interest in expedition paddling. If not for Dan, I don’t think WaterTribe would be part of my life. I met Dan in early 2002, we were both teaching sea kayaking for Rock Rest Adventures. We hadn’t worked together, but had started email communication with a plan to paddle together.

A very active paddler, and always looking for serious paddling partners, Dan invited me to his neck of the woods for a weekend of paddling. We spent that first long day on the water ending with a 3 mile crossing of the Alligator River into 15+ mph headwinds. When we got to our take out, we were both exhausted, but, smiling, laughing, and feeling totally exhilarated. We both knew this was the beginning of a long time paddling friendship. It wasn’t long before Dan and Ellen’s guest room was named “Dawn’s room”.

Dan has spent much of his lifetime paddling solo expedition canoe trips in the remote regions of the Northwest Territories of Canada. He is also a skilled sea kayak navigator and expeditioner, and had even completed a solo trip to the West Coast of Newfoundland in 1984, many years before sea kayaking and sea kayak expedition became the popular sport it is today. Having paddled many kayak expedition trips, Dan always wanted to return to NF, and an article in SeaKayaker Magazine about a trip on the Southwest remote coast had him planning a return about the time that we met.

When I started paddling with Dan, I was already a good paddler, but I lacked the confidence for a long distance ocean going trip, had no navigational skills, and was not that comfortable in surf and bigger water conditions. Dan had already decided that I would be his partner for this new NF expedition, and patiently started working with me to develop the confidence and experience I would need for an ocean going expedition. He and I, and another new friend John, started training and planning for our future month long trip. Our training was not without it’s own adventures. Remember the story about "the incredible journey of the little red kayak" that took a trip from the coast of North Carolina to the coast of France, yup, that was Dan, and I.

We completed our expedition in the summer of 2003, one of the great highlights of my life. I returned a different person and paddler. More skilled, certainly more confident, and ready to take on many more challenges. It was that experience with Dan that began my pursuit for more expedition paddling, and particularly the WaterTribe Challenges. My first Everglades Challenge was completed in March 2004 (see my article, "So Much Adventure...").

Dan had planned to do the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge 2005 with me, but, it was time for some much needed shoulder repair surgery (when he plays, he plays hard). He is still recovering from what turned out to be a very difficult and complicated surgery. But his Docs and physical therapists are confident he will be back on the water soon. These days, we are planning our 2008 return trip to NF, and Dan is helping me train for the WaterTribe Ultimate Challenge.

This past Sunday I went to visit my friend Dan, and together we again set off on a new and different type of adventure; a slow boat towing bike ride on the nice flat country roads near Edenton and around Chowan County. We called this expedition "Eau de Barnyard" (see the pigs wallowing in the background).

1 comment:

Mike Daniels said...

He will be missed.