Ever heard of the saying, ‘Wake up with determination, go to bed with satisfaction’? It might come across as a no brainer sort of life lesson. However, I am quite certain that many of us might actually come to an agreement on how hard it actually is to live by such a philosophy. Now I am still learning, beyond the rather short wavelength of kayaking, though an integral portion of my life spectrum. However, my recent trip to the Cauvery section close to Dabbagulli, magnified the very process mentioned above. With my newly constructed skills in kayaking, I was finally a part of a prolonged river run.

The trip was a two day event to the Cauvery River section in Dabbagulli, in Tamil Nadu. We were a team of seven paddlers. The intent was to paddle four kilometers upstream where a couple of good Class III rapids were existent for our adventurous pleasure. Yes I meant to use the word upstream by the way, was not a typo… Paddling upstream is well, literally against nature and the way things move and flow, but that was the plan! After a night of camping out on the beach of the river, the following day would be the grand event of paddling thirty kilometers downstream. So the shenanigans were about to begin and I certainly was a little nervous, wondering if I am up for this, for I was eager to finish the weekend in style.

 Let the shenanigans begin!

Let the shenanigans begin!

We reached our put in and camp site close to noon and soon were geared up and ready to begin the day’s paddling. The only thing coming in the way in this case was… everything! We were paddling upstream against the natural flow of water. Now of course it is not possible to be paddling upwards of a rapid, or with certain sections having too strong of a downward flow. In such cases, what is needed is to get off the kayak and walk your way upstream of the section that is in the way. A lot of movement and exertion is required. The plus side of it? Well your destination for one! But what upstream paddling brings is a great amount of practice to your paddling. It truly tests your skills set and defines your technical ability. For being able to ensure your kayak moves the direction you want to with every paddle stroke making the right outcome of movement is what makes you stronger. Paddling from eddy to eddy is required which would need anyone to perform ferrying through the current. It was tiring. But giving up was nowhere in the realm of consideration and all I wanted to do was to move forward.

 Walking sections that cannot be paddled upstream

Walking sections that cannot be paddled upstream

My endurance was put under a heavy dose of cross examination in the three hour upstream session! In spite of taking breaks in the middle, we moved up rather quickly. Ferrying through currents, ensuring every paddle stroke is technically sound and with authority. I was thoroughly exhausted by the end of our mere distance of four kilometers. However in spite of such a short distance, the energy put in is a lot more. Even so, the magnitude of achievements by other paddlers who are capable of far more strenuous circumstances crept into my thought process, reminding me for one how out of shape I seem to be! Over and above my huffing and puffing nature that was evident, I could not help but believe how man made the concept of limitations are. Sky is the limit is what all say. By the end of our four kilometer journey, I believed I pushed my limitations a notch. Our destination? All worth it! A great rapid for us to play in and to paddle down with big waves coming onto you. The approximate fifteen minute paddling down to where we started seemed extremely comforting and smooth. Felt good being in agreement with nature again!

 Big waves!

Big waves!

I slept like a log the night of camping! A good amount of drama was guaranteed with the heavens splitting upon us while we struggled to set up our tents and have a fire ready in order to cook some food. But everything was under control sooner or later and a good night’s sleep was earned. However, the trip was far from over. This was a day where we will be paddling down thirty kilometers and will be faced with about eight rapids in total. I was actually super excited. Soon we made our way down and in no time reached the first rapid, considered the toughest of the stretch. Big waves were the key characteristic of the rapid and that would involve some aggressive paddling with rightly timed strokes. The bow of the kayak must be facing the wave and punched through head on. No carnage occurred from my end and I was thrilled. What was next? About twenty nine more kilometers.

 Manik enjoying himself.

Manik enjoying himself.

We made our way downstream in good time, paddling the slower sections with ease. All rapids were thoroughly enjoyable with big waves coming onto us. The high volume Cauvery River poses as the lifeline to magnificent surroundings with lush green mountains on all sides. Next to nothing human existence in the area was a welcome change and all of us relished the peaceful silence. A rare occurrence of wildlife was spotted that just added to the experience. Once we reached the halfway point, we stopped for lunch. All of us had burned our breakfast in the paddling and devoured on the snacks we carried. With a few minutes rest, we decided to do the remaining stretch in one go.

 Beautiful.

Beautiful.

My paddling seemed to have improved a great deal through the two days which was highly satisfying. I am quite certain all paddlers will remember and cherish their first proper river run, as I will with this trip. The structure of the trip gave me the liberty to truly push myself in achieving the goals we set out for ourselves. Having exerted to a level that perhaps I have not been familiarized with in my life, the content factor at the end of this trip was one of a kind. The beautiful landscape of the might Cauvery River and what it has to offer was all I thought about as we made our way back to Bangalore and as I hit the sack, exhausted. But I was certain that the two days that had passed, I was determined to succeed. As for the satisfaction level before you sleep at night, priceless. A philosophy that I hope to live by for life.   

 First river run that can never be forgotten. 

First river run that can never be forgotten. 


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