welcome to the haikutimes

Issue #67, Cache La Poudre River, Colorado, August 3, 2003. Writing and photographs by Jonathan.

we need fierce carbohydrates, says ben,
(or should i say vardaan)
so i make azuki bean burritoes
with cheese and coffe at 7:30 a.m.

for some reason the topic
of shamanism is in the air

we drive to ft. collins
i read passages from daniel pinchbeck's book
about igobaine and hoffman and
MOA inhibitors and the machine elves
who occasionally deem it necessarry
to steer humans along the path.

vardan ties elaborate truckers'
and clove hitches on the ropes
attaching our kayaks to his car -
says it makes him more comfortable
to be twirling the knots himself instead
of relying on straps.
"when i started boating
there were no straps" he explains.

into the wild and senic
poudre river canyon,
free flowing still.
we stop to scout pineview falls
and a young lad of 23 pulls up behind us.
he is solo,
we are two,
and quickly we decide to team up
and set up a shuttle.

justin lives in wisconsin -
did his undergraduate work in ft. collins
in mechanical engineering -
but comes back to boat the poudre.

the sky is clear but the edge of a storm
builds towards cameron pass.
by the time we are one hour
into our journey through the low water and rocks
of upper mish,
we see lightning on the horizon,
disappearing behind the dry poudre canyon cliffs.

upper mishiwaka falls is clearly class three -
with all this low water, we dodge
rocks, skirt holes, judge distances
and trajectories -
running class three drops at low water
(and at nearly fourty) is akin to living life -
the fear enhanced by imagining what might be there
rather than what is really there -
and then life or the rapid takes care of itself
as you make the incremental decisions
balancing what is clearly offered
and the steps taken to meet those challenges.

at any rate the river
as always been a fine teacher and
under partly cloudy skies
we take off our sunglasses
and shiver with tangerines in contemplation.
it is all good,
even the sudden need to
get more quickly down to the car,
to avoid the storm
(which never came)
or to meet someone at an unreasonable time
(which justin later shrugged off)

the few kayakers on the river
are outnumbered by paddle-bearing
adventurers on rafts of bright blue plastic.
we pop through lower mishiwaka falls to find
they have all docked at the mishiwaka inn
to join in an all-day bluegrass concert.

i never tip over or do a roll
yet there are plenty of moments
when my brace is the last thing between
me and my head scraping on rocks.

i resist each encounter
with powerful braces, even
dislodgoing boulders with my paddle
in order to stay upright

above all else i am committed
to facing the rapids, encountering the
unknown, flowing like vardan does at this moment,
more in meditation than
negotiation with the water

at pinewood falls my heart beats loudly
i remember several years ago
straying too close to the rock on the far left,
sweeping up against it and rolling
this time i watch vardan make the same mistake,
rolling backwards as he disappears from view
i finally erase thoughts about portaging
and follow justin's route, avoiding the sloping rock by
coming dangerously close to another free standing
and slide through gracefully
with only several swallowfulls of water

at another moment we pass a crowd
of racuous river-shore partiers who
are passing between the opposing river-banks on a cable
swinging on a pulley
yet the pulley is stranded in the center of the cable
leaving only us kayakers to strategically float underneath,
pushing the pulley back to shore with a paddle -
i help, and ask for a beer as my reward -
instead a bikini-clad gal comes splashing over
to give me a swig of white wine from a bag

more low water rock dodging,
playing in waves underneath bridge pylons,
taking pictures of plants at the take out,
while vardan fetches his car.
our last stop is at avogadro's number
in ft. collins,
murals seeping from the walls
while we eat sub sandwiches
and sweet chai.
the heaveans unfold
long's peak between sheets of heat rain
and double rainbows greet our arrival
back in boulder.

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen