This is the second installment of my series, The Intangibles of Kayaking covering paddling related topics that aren’t part of a curriculum or formal training. The information I am presenting are basic guidelines to help new or inexperienced paddlers avoid some common pitfalls and awkward situations.
Part II: Trip Etiquette
My friend Allyson Davis wrote some great tips on trip etiquette regarding social media and inviting people along on trips that you are not leading. It’s a good read, so check it out. Her advice is spot on, so I don’t have to harp on the faux pas of turning your friend’s trip into a giant cluster!
Be Courteous. Chances are, someone spent a great deal of time planning and organizing a trip. Being punctual is not only a common courtesy, it may also be crucial for a trip on a dam release river, or other reasons. If you’re running late, inform whoever is organizing the trip as soon as possible. As my instructor told us at our development workshop, “if you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.”
Be Prepared. You’re heading out on a trip that is a good four hour drive from your designated meeting place. How should you prepare? Have all your gear packed and organized so it is easy to move from vehicle to vehicle when car pool arrangements are being made. If you have offered to drive, have your vehicle fueled and ready to go. Heck, even if you aren’t planning on driving, it may happen that you have to anyway. Eat breakfast before meeting, bring it with you, or have snacks and munchies for the trip-I mean, that is Road Trip 101, right? Unless your trip organizer has built in time to stop for gas, food, etc…don’t show up running on fumes and you have to stop by McDonald’s because you’re starving.
Don’t Assume. OK, this is a big pet peeve of mine. You may not care if your car smells, has stains on the carpet, and looks like a city trash can; that doesn’t mean your buddy revels in his garbage. Ask before you bring your cherry Big Gulp and breakfast burrito and proceed to destroy the upholstery in your friend’s new Subaru. (Just to be clear, I only allow drinks with lids or tops, and I don’t like food being eaten in the car, thanks for asking.) For goodness sake, don’t wear your stinky, muddy river booties in the car on the ride back from the takeout!
Don’t be a Cheapskate. Pitch in for gas whenever you ride with someone else. Sadly, there is a reason this has to be mentioned.
Watch What You’re Doing. Climbing and reaching over the side of a truck bed or the top of a car with roof racks can scratch a paint job. Unless asked, don’t start clambering on the running boards of your buddy’s car trying to help tie down boats. You may have good intentions, but most people are particular about how they tie or strap down gear. Ask howyou can help, so you can be helpful.
Be a Good Steward. Tie all your gear in your boat. Nothing is worse than contributing to the litter problem we all see on rivers. Bring a bag with you and pick up trash along the way. Once you become entranced by the beauty of nature, you will want to protect it. Strive to leave a place in better condition than how you found it.
Stay Home If You’re in a Hurry. For the most part, people are on what’s known as River Time whenever they go paddling. Organized trips may list details such as estimated trip distances, paddling time, driving and shuttle times. If those estimates, and they areestimates, don’t fit into your schedule, don’t go. Nothing is worse than being on a river and someone asking “how much longer are we gonna be?”, every 15 minutes.
These are some common issues that arise on nearly every trip and whenever new paddlers are introduced into a group. Keep the above tips in mind, and you will find yourself being invited to many more trips in the future.