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Article added Wednesday, December 27, 2000
Keeping Up With Tradition
Story & Photos By Julie Black

[More Pictures]

Cheat Narrows
A special winter paddling trip
Holiday traditions can be found all over the world in many different fashions. Christmas in Jamaica starts with cleaning up the place, both inside and out. Walls are painted, the lawn is properly manicured, stones and trees are white washed, (possibly to resemble a white Christmas). Many make merry in Mexico with Las Posadas, nine consecutive days of candlelight processions and lively parties, while children engage in the ruthless smashing of pinatas.

Traditions are handed down, from generation to generation, year after year. Although traditions are talked about as old thangs, new traditions are making their way into the history books.

Jason Black has been keeping up with his fairly new tradition for five years, kayaking on Christmas morning. This has been no easy task to keep up with, since Jason lives in Appalachia, which receives quite a bit of snowfall and cold weather during the month of December. This year was the coldest Christmas morning yet, with temperatures well below normal and in the teens.

Pete
Sneaky Pete Daly
Black, with his friend Pete Daly, and me with my camera set off on an early morning journey to the Cheat River Narrows. This section of whitewater is class II-III, a mild to medium paddle except when you add the elements of frigid cold waters, and dangerous ice shelves. "There is no flipping over." said Jason.

The paddle was a peaceful one, and the scenery unmatched on a day like that. With ice chunks floating in the blue water, it looked as if the kayakers were boating in Alaska. "The paddle blade felt like I was putting it in jello." said Black.

Most people who heard that Jason and Pete went kayaking that day said that they were crazy, but I believe this Christmas tradition will stick around for a long, long time.

I can't think of a better way to enjoy peace on earth, and feel closer to the heavens on a special day, then just being outside.