From the Shop: An Ode to the Intermediate

I flew out to Colorado for Memorial Day Weekend for CKS Paddlefest in Buena Vista.  We saw a lot of friends, ate good food, probably drank too much, ran the Ark, and got a day of pretty phenomenal late-season skiing in at A-basin.  I kept everything well within my comfort zone, and it was an amazing trip.  Reflecting on it, I’m a huge fan of “the intermediate:”  The class III, the blue square, the 5.8, the flowy single track.  

These are all things you can do fairly proficiently with some modicum of skill and experience.  It’s accessible, it’s fun.  The pursuit of expert-level proficiency is a certainly a worthy exercise of self growth, but it takes a certain level of dedication.  At various points in my life, I’ve pushed myself in that direction, and the pursuit of mastery is an interesting exercise.  It leads to a lot of fun and fulfilling experiences.  But it also brings it’s share of frustration and cold and wet and pain.  It’s overall a worthwhile endeavor, but branching out into other pursuits makes me appreciate those who say “No, I’m good hanging out at this level and having fun.”  There’s a level of mastery involved in that as well.  It’s taken me a long time to appreciate the flow that’s achievable at this level.  That flow is rarer for me on steeper grades.

And if you do choose to step up, the intermediate level is that much more important.  It’s where you sharpen your skills, hone your technique, get in the physical conditioning, and gain the experience so that you can step up confidently and comfortably.  I still enjoy paddling Class V when the opportunity presents itself, but a large part of why I can do that is because of the time I spend ripping flowy long boat laps on Class III or picking out challenging moves.  This is where you learn and train and have fun doing it.

So here’s to the intermediate, to those who strive to be better.  To paddle better, to ski better, to ride better.  But more so, those who strive to have fun.