70 paddlers awaiting in a large pushy eddy with white knuckle grips on their blades. 15 boats. 70 paddlers.
Wide eyes glancing about in attempt to estimate the surreal situation framed by the sun glistening off the water and the tension that laid on our shoulders and pressed on your skull.
A voice cried out and a swirling melee ensued. Like piranhas devouring their prey paddle blades turned the Clackamas River into a boiling frenzy. The only thought common amongst the combatants was that energy must be unabashedly expended. Muscles recoiled and exploded, cries echoed off the canyon walls, boats bounced and paddles cracked while continuing the deliberate pursuit of a clean line.
The mass start of the Western Whitewater Championship Series downriver race at the 26th Annual Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival was as much a tribute to the strength of the paddling community of the Pacific Northwest as it was endearing to the human spirit and all that is right about competition. We were happy before the race, challenged physically and emotionally during it, and became attenuated to our inner light afterward.
The Divine is not something high above us. It is in heaven, it is in earth, it is inside us. - Ueshiba
Thank you Bob Mosier, the Northwest Rafters Association, and all event sponsors, volunteers, and participants. You have all had a part in making history this past weekend and establishing a standard that will rewardingly difficult in trying to repeat.