This trip was led by Ryan Rushton, and ISK club member, Jeff Forseth. Michelle Forseth was one of the club participants, and her role quickly expanded to be one of the coordinators. Seven other club members were to become part of the team.
“A heartfelt thank you to Ryan, Jeff and Michelle for making this trip possible.” – Sharell
As we were spending time on this trip, we realized we were far from civilization and we started to call this area “The edge of the earth” and truly this experience was. Logistics demanded this expedition to be self supported. For Michelle, Ryan and I, this was a culmination of our vast experiences in wilderness leadership and I believe it was met with ease and comfort. This comfort level makes the challenges transparent to the participants and frees their minds to learning and enjoying the moment.
This was not just a tour, but an opportunity to learn ang grow skills in an environment that can be unforgiving. Fortunately, the conditions weren’t too big, and allowed us to play. As instructors, Ryan and I brought our students along a path of incremental learning and progressions. The real stars, however are the brilliant students and their tremendous willingness to try new things and their ‘coachability’.
“We are all very capable paddlers and had two great instructors on our journey that both challenged us and allowed for self-discovery” – Aaron –
Ryan has phenomenal coaching skills which I aspire to; he has the ability to understand the student’s level of skill and push it further than they think is possible. Breaking mental barriers by setting up a variety of techniques ( games, challenges, parameters, progressions, and self discovery) creates a fun, and individual tailored learning experience while still participating in the group. Founded in vast experience (ocean and whitewater), fueled by the environment, and blended with a youthful vigor, he also demonstrates to students what can still be achieved.
Not that I’m at the same level as Ryan (I’m not), there’s tremendous advantages to having 2 skilled coaches in this setting. The ability to have eyes on the students is critical to everyone’s safety. Working with another coach can sometimes be stressful for the coaches and students; conflicting information or constant piling on of information is confusing to the student. I feel only one person can coach at a time; working cooperatively by allowing the current coach the room to fulfill the session, and being a supportive partner, yields better success. Having worked with Ryan a fair amount in the past, I have an insight of what Ryan is trying to accomplish with his students. For example: Ryan would set up an exercise on one side of the rocks and I would position myself on the other; our communication is limited. I would be able to offer feedback as they would pass by. Likewise, when it’s my turn to coach, Ryan is very respectful and supportive. Or we may split our group to provide students a more individualized learning opportunity.
Day journeys gave us opportunity to work on our navigation skills in a vigorous environment and endless scenic beauty that couldn’t be beat; this was our greatest reward. Even the overcast days (which were surprisingly few for Alaska in summer) had indescribable beauty.
This trip would not have been the success it was without the awesome people that participated. Everyone’s willingness, and good attitude throughout the trip mad it easy for all.
Again, I want to give thanks to the club, Inland Sea Kayakers, for their support of this trip, providing it’s members diverse pathways to explore the individual’s kayak interests and it’s support of it’s instructors, who continue striving to show club members how to explore and achieve these pathways.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I loved every minute” – Fred
“This is truly the way to experience a place and have an amazing kayaking adventure, too!” -Sharell
“I was happy to have had the opportunity and hope to go to Alaska again in the future.” – Aaron
“I hope to have the chance to participate in more of these kind of adventures, but this one will be hard to top.” – Mike