Dear Mountain Mama,
My boyfriend is teaching me to kayak and often we only take one car. He normally drives me to the put-in and I wait there with our kayaks and gear while he drives to the take-out and then hitches a ride.
Last time we went paddling, it took him forever to get a ride. I froze waiting for him and told him next time I’d do the hitching, since I’ve got better odds of getting a ride. He told me it wasn’t safe for a woman to hitchhike and he wouldn’t “let” me put my life at risk in order to shave a few minutes off of the time it takes to set shuttle.
We’re still arguing. Is it safe for a woman to hitchhike the shuttle?
Dear Thumbs Up,
While hitchhiking is generally never considered a “safe” activity, in many paddling communities picking up kayakers happens often. Other paddlers stop, knowing that it’s just good shuttle karma to give someone a ride – after all what goes around comes around. Even locals accustomed to seeing paddlers to offer rides. Assess the area and decide for yourself whether you think it’s safe to hitchhike.
You don’t have to take every ride offered to you. If a ride makes you feel uncomfortable, just say no thanks. When all else fails, a river knife strapped to your PDF might prevent unwanted advances.
Setting shuttle can be part of the adventure. There’s something about the anticipation of waiting for a ride, sizing up every passing car to see if the driver will stop. Connecting with the driver provides the random connection that can result in a new paddling friend or an interesting conversation.
Besides, a heated car is always warmer than the cozying up with paddling gear at the put-in. Appeal to your man’s sense of chivalry. Praise his toughness for being able to guard the kayaks and withstand the cold temperatures.
Thumbs Up, trust your gut to determine whether a particular area and a ride feel safe for hitchhiking. Use common sense when considering what to wear. Paddling gear sends a different message than a bikini. But by all means, get out there and figure out every aspect of paddling for yourself. Feeling comfortable hitching a shuttle will come in handy when you paddling without your man. And remember to return the favor when you have the opportunity to help other paddlers set their shuttle.