Need a reminder of the raw power of nature?
Take a gander at Sunset Falls, a 275-foot stretch of the Skykomish River in Washington where the rocks lining the canyon narrow, forcing the water into frenzied rush. It's an awe-inspiring sight.
But one thing it isn't is easily naviagble by kayak: only seven paddlers have ever attempted it.
Last month, Creature Craft CEO Darren Vancil gave Sunset Falls a go. Creature Craft is a type of inflatable raft supprted by overhead bumpers, kind of like an overwater dune buggy. They’re intended for use by adventure junkies as well as rescue workers, and Vancil claims that it is impossible to capsize one.
Vancil recently took the Creature Craft to attempt Sunset Falls. On his third ride, the waves knocked his paddle from his hands, thrusting it into his helmet. He lost consciousness, and while strapped to his seat was knocked around with enough force to break his pelvis and sacrum.
Yes, in some ways his boat saved his life. And yes, he’s made a little video touting that fact, suggesting that if it wasn’t for his boat, he’d be dead (nothing says proof of conept like a near-death experience, amirite?). He’s even asking for donations to foot his hospital bill.
But let's not forget that there's another way to prevent yourself from dying on one of the most challenging stretches of water in the U.S.: don't attempt it in the first place.
Gear is not a replacement for skill: because gear can fail, and when it does, skill is the only thing you can fall back on. This is not to say one shouldn’t try new things — even dangerous ones — or that we as a society should look negatively on failure. Far from it. But perhaps we should prize training and preparation over whatever shiny new object is granting us access to great feats.
It’s the journey, after all.