Have you ever been in that dilemma when you plan for an activity for weeks, gather whoever is willing to come along only to get ditched by them in the last minute? No? Well, welcome to my world.
Following my vision to not being a kayak-virgin anymore, I was already on my way to Old Mill station when I got ditched in the above mentioned way. Now I had 3 options:
- Chicken out and do a guilt trip homewards
- Thunder on, go kayaking alone and be found washed ashore 3 days after with starfish in my hair
- Thunder on, pay more and join a group for a lesson and guided tour
I was still undecided till I reached the Old Mill station. My grumpiness slowly gave away to the joy of being surrounded by a bubbling river, stone bridges and lush greenery. The hotel Old Mill on the way was resplendent with old world charm. I stepped in for a sneak-peek and saw a wedding in its last stages. The little group of relatives who were left, hung around the couple while the couple gushed with excitement and posed for photographs. None of the clamor or pandemonium of Indian weddings. I extracted myself from the scene and proceeded to walk down the path towards Toronto Adventure’s tent by Humber river with music from the party trailing behind me in perfect symphony with nature.
My mind was now made up and I decided there was no turning back, Option 3 it was, so what if I have to pay $70 instead of $20 for a trip?I would be getting a professional training and a guided tour. May be I will become so good that I will pick this up as my new hobby and might even participate in the next Olympics! OMG! Who knows!
Reality, like it or not, always has other things in her mind. I waited patiently for the guide and fellow kayakers to arrive. But just as I returned after attending the undeniable call of nature, the training had started. I ran back into a group who were already life-jacketed and expertly maneuvering forward and backward strokes with their paddles. The instructions stopped just as I found a life jacket and held up a paddle. Well all is not lost, I thought to myself, I still have a group and a guide to shout out to for help. One thinks.
We gingerly got into kayaks and made a couple of swishes with the paddle. I was so excited and tried to remember the YouTube videos that I had watched while prepping up. Soon I was ahead of the group and it felt like eternal bliss. While watching ducks and family of geese give me a middle-finger face, I made a mental note to ask the guide to perfect my strokes when he comes by.
The journey from the starting point to the bridge and back took about 2 hours.We were endowed with solo performances from a seagull and a woodpecker. Tiny ducklings swarmed around their parents in alarm when some of the kayakers wanted selfies with them. The guide passed by me once to join a girl in a canoe and then remained as a distant spot for rest of the time. As we neared the bridge, water grew more choppy. The sunset enchanted us with panorama of colors as we bobbed up and down resting our paddles and aching muscles (and butt).
The journey back, as always, was the hardest. One by one, my entire group passed me by and I was left struggling behind. Save for a glance from the spot-guide now and then, I was left to my own devices. So much for the $70 worth of “lesson and guided tour and I will help the ones behind”. I looked wistfully at passing motor boats and longed for some food and water. Having found that cooling my palms in the water helped a bit to paddle more, my kayak had to endure sudden spurts of movement followed by cooling periods. Slowly I made my way back to the starting point full of hunger, thirst but also enthusiasm of having a great experience and for being brave to do it on my own.