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California Dreaming 2

I grew up watching Demshitz shred in their Pyranha Kayaks. To be invited on tour with them was the biggest, best, luckiest break in my career. I grew up watching their videos and seeing the photos, and although just getting to kayak with them was incredible, I always dreamed of kayaking with them in California where I had watched so many videos of them shredding. Unfortunately, with the seasons, climate change, and poor snow packs, we never got the chance to go in my three summers on tour. We did do lots of kayaking in different places though, and I learned a lot; coming to the Royal Gorge for the first time this year I felt like I was putting together all of the things that I had learned from Demshitz over the years:

1) Just go.

So many times on tour, we would drive to a river late in the day and still make it happen. Obviously, you want to give yourself enough time out there, but don’t think that you can’t make it happen or that you can’t get it done in less time if you need to get it done in less time. Lots of people were sending me their predictions for water levels, but when Dane and Jared Seiler told me Royal was coming in, I turned and burned and got on the plane to try and catch it. For fear of the flows dropping, myself and Dane decided to do the Royal Gorge in one day; 45 miles and 5 sick waterfalls. 

2) You don’t have to be serious to do serious things.

I always loved that about Demshitz; always chilled out, always funny. It really transforms the situations, and I’m happy that myself and Dane cracked jokes at every opportunity. “Selfie of me above Scott’s Drop”. Stoked to be there!

3) Safety.

Demshitz were always on it with safety when I was on tour, and one time, Dave Fusilli saved my life. Obviously, there’s a lot to White Water Safety and Rescue, but one of the most important things I learned from Demshitz was to move fast, work as a team, and get hands on the person that needs help. Oh, and if you’re the person in trouble, ‘just stay calm yinz”.  With just myself and Dane running as a ‘gruesome-twosome’ crew, we would have to work together if anything happened, but I felt confident we could make it work if needs be. I also knew from an old DS / EG Creeking blog post which way to hike out from the first set of waterfalls if anything happened. 

4) Kayaking off waterfalls.

It’s a dark art to the sport; you have to do so much to do so little, and the only real way to learn is to go over the edge of one. Dave Fusilli especially spent so much time breaking down techniques and helping me to understand them. I felt like I utilised all of them down the five waterfalls of the Royal Gorge. 

5) Food is for rich people.

Often times on tour, we would be hungry, mostly because we were terrible at planning ahead for anything other than kayaking and occasional kayak dealer visits. Food shopping was never high on the list of things to do, it was more of a bonus thing that occasionally happened. Thankfully, there was always beer in the warm cooler without ice because DS had a beer sponsorship at the time… Anyway, I really learned how to deal with being hungry on the water. Myself and Dane were pushing hard to get to the bottom of all the waterfalls before we stopped for lunch, and I was hungry as a “Manger”* by the third waterfall, but kept going.

*A “Manger” is a very stout, very hairy member of the Demshitz crew that is prone to getting “hangry”. 

6) Get the camera out.

Some people love it and some people hate it. There are definitely days where I can’t be bothered, but most of the time I love having a camera around in a sick location. I genuinely love using a camera, and creating memories from these moments we only get to live a few times in our lives. Jared Seiler sent me a bunch of photos from a Demshitz trip down the Royal Gorge and they are all so rad to me!

7) Be ridiculous and love everything.

Around 10 hours into our mission of a day, I thought the takeout was right around the corner. Dane then proceeded to tell me it was still over an hour to the takeout. I started joking that we had missed the takeout and were going to kayak the river into the ocean and be able to take a nap on the beach. I had the Beach Boys album in my head, and it really helped to take the edge off how sore and tired I was at this point. The “love everything” comes from Demshitz accepting anyone and everyone and being such an open, friendly crew; it took me a while, but I think I’m getting there and can proudly say that I am vaguely fond of hanging out with Dane Jackson, at times, a little bit, not really.

We finished that day 45-mile day in 11 hours and drank a beer at the takeout. A true Demshitz day out to lunch. Hoping to catch up with the DS crew either in California this season or at some point on the water soon! Cheers for everything team!