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Looking Back and Moving On!

by Cassie Hayden

This last year has produced memories and events that sitting in a rocking chair as an old man will make me smile. From California and Colorado to South American and the great green hills of New England my mind is full of the rides, drops and the road to all of them.

The year started off in Chile with one of the highest water seasons on the Fu. Shut down, and forced to hike out of camp with our boats and gear on an Ox cart we went to Argentina and started 2006 with week of fun in Bariloche. After a week in such a lovely town, drinking fantastic wine and easting great steak we returned to the the Fu to face the high water.

Many heavy days and head to head encounters with Mundaca and Throne Room ensued. Late night campfires watching the Southern Cross spin around and walking back across the fields on a beautiful sunny afternoon. This was a winter my winter in Chile.
Back State Side and day one we were in a boat. I had no gear having sold the lot in SA so in a mound of borrowed gear Mike and I load up in his Dodge Van, a new addition, and bomb on up to the Mettawee for a little park and huck session. While not being the most epic drop in the world, that litle ten footer sits as key moment in this year that my mind was set on kayaking. And The Van was going to be the vehicle to take us there. The turn had been made and we were off and away.

The next step was the creeking season in New England, it barely happened but we milked it for everything it’s worth. West Branch at 0 and you know you just need, I mean need, that fix that you will scrape down for the few places where it constricts enough to actually float a boat.

Ah well, you win some, you lose some. Right?

The end of May rolls around and the rain finally comes, but I was going to leave the guys and focus on my own mission. Vail was first on the calendar and the Teva Games. Homestake Creek was my step back into the competition scene after several year having taken a step back from my slalom days. Well this was it and after my first swim in seven years during my practice run the morning of the race I walked back to the top with my boat and got it done.

With one leg down I started my drive across Utah to find Shangri La. Or at least that is how every kayaker who has been describes Cali.

Two, it’s a great number really but that is beside the point, was to get down to business and step it up on the creeks of the Sierras. Go to cal, get in a boat and you really do not have to try to hard to accomplish the above.

More than anything it was the nights slept out under the starts, watching Dylan dive into the Yuba on his twenty first, finding dive bars that would let us watch the Stanley Cup finals and sleeping in the house where Boogie Nights was filmed.

The rest of the season went like this:

Work till sunday evening. Load the van. Drive through the night to the river. Wherever. Put on at sun up. Paddle all day. Sleep. Paddle. Drive home throught the night. Work till the next run.

Team trials came and went, the World Cup happened and Gauley season was very pleasant too. However great all of this was it was still bombing down the Raquette with Matt and Andrew that was the fall’s highlight.

The last stop on the year’s tour was the Green Race. Damn that was fun.

So the year is almost done. But not quite. One more month to fire it up and leave ‘06 good and spent.

I am off to Chile to spend another winter on the Fu. Jim is off to Big Sky, Mike is in Tahoe and Tino is hopefully off to South America with Huge.

So now the stage is set for the next mission, to better this year and to push even further. Tino is focusing on the freestyle scene, Mike and I are going to hit up the races and head back to Cali and Jim will ripping up the rivers in the way that only he can.


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