It had been about two weeks since I took the beginner course, and I had yet to paddle in my boat, which was much more edgy and harder to control than the one I learned on in the course. Naturally this led to a great idea! I was tanning out in my yard one day after work...and I got a call, someone had seen my post on one of the local boards looking for a paddler to show me the ropes a bit...
When I first met Sam at the put in I found out he was a high school age man who, despite being a decent beginner paddler, hadn't paddled for awhile...and was in an unfamiliar playboat, not his usual larger rig. I was an absolute water virgin. we were on one of the easiest runs of the Chilliwack that could be considered whitewater even (I realize at this point!). There was a bit of a rapid, a hole with a bit of a wavetrain under the bridge..which to me at the time looked huge, though I thought I'd have no trouble.
Now a bit of backstory on the river. The Chilliwack, when it reached what is now the Vedder Bridge used to flow north to the Fraser River along the current Chilliwack River Road. In place of all that is Chilliwack/Abbotsford/Sumas was a gigantic seasonal, shallow lake called Sumas Lake. In 1922 the lake was drained with Sumas Drainage Canal and Vedder River/Canal created, allowing for all the exposed land which is now the three cities and then some of agricultural area. Chilliwack River now turns in Vedder River after Vedder Bridge and when it curves north and becomes a canal it is Vedder Canal until it meets the Fraser River. Now you know!
Looking at the river I thought 'this'll be easy, all I have to do is ferry across and avoid the rapid'...well we put in and I managed a roll (first one in my boat, I'd also been the only one on my course to manage a roll). Sam went ahead and passed the rapid no problem.
As for me...as soon as I got in the current my hips were shaking side to side, I had no idea what to expect from or how to handle my boat and it's heavy edges. I barely managed to turn into the rapid and in the hole flipped right over, luckily I grabbed a rock on the side and pulled myself up, and Sam had rescued my gear downstream, his first rescue. I had no way of getting back to the road that I could see except through someones yard...well I got caught, and got a strip torn off me, rightfully so. I apologized to the man and went on my way, crossed the bridge and down to my boat. I deftly completed the rest of the run to Lickman Road with my eyes wide and shaking.
This was my start into kayaking. I would complete one more run with a guy I met named Bob before doing an actual beginner run with lots of experienced kayakers and Kaye(The Purple Hayes instructor). On this second run with Bob we went from Osborne Road to Teskey Rock avoiding all the hazards on the river, and I didn't have much difficulty. This would be the lead up to my learning and would mimic much of my steep learning curve.