Lost Girl of the Week: Ky Delaney

Lost Girl of the Week — By on March 2, 2011 at 7:00 am

This week’s LG of the Week, Ky Delaney, is a recovering attorney who recently quit her job to travel, kayak, climb, run, hike,  camp and otherwise spend time on or near a river.  With her pick-up truck fully loaded for whatever adventure comes up, she enjoys getting out and experiencing the U.S. in a way that embraces getting dirty and hanging out with local folks.  You can follow her adventures on her blog at http://riverchica.com.


As a thirty-something juggling a busy career practicing law with managing two houses, while pursuing outdoor sports with a certain desperate determination, I felt like something was missing.  Everything I could outsource I did, including having my house cleaned, groceries delivered, and laundry washed.  During work days, I billed in ten minute intervals and I carried the same carefully scripted sense of structure into my free time,  guarding each minute with a fierce possessiveness so that I could find myself on a river or a mountain every weekend.

I was exhausted.  Exhaustion comes to be a point of pride among the career-minded go-getter set, because if you’re not tired, it probably means you aren’t

working hard enough.  Although I did manage to fit in a rather impressive list of activities like climbing Half Dome in Yosemite, kayaking the Tuolumne River, and weekend ski trips to Squaw Valley, I felt like I was leading a life that wasn’t fully open to new possibilities.

My connections with people were necessarily on my terms, and  I was never the person called to give a ride to the airport or for an impromptu outing.  I felt like my community lacked the authenticity that having more time and less money creates.

It took me three weeks of pep talks from friends to muster up the courage to

quit my job.  Two more months passed before I rented out both houses, packed all my belongings that wouldn’t fit into my truck into storage, and automated my bills.  During this time,  I began to create a vision of living a simpler lifestyle, connecting with people, and being on the water.

Of all the ways I enjoy spending time outdoors, whitewater kayaking tops the list.  Something about kayaking down a river takes me back to my adolescent days on the western shores of the Chesapeake Bay, when all of my friends owned boats years before any of us even contemplated driving a car.  The feeling of being on moving water brings back that heady sense of freedom I

experienced being on the water while growing up.  Now the rivers I paddle are full of rapids requiring maneuvering and demanding attention.  I love how present the sport of kayaking requires me to be, which is part of the reason I decided to spend my time off experiencing more of the world from the seat of my boat.

Packing my pick-up with boats, climbing equipment, and camping necessities, I have embraced traveling in a way that allows random, small adventures to unfold as a matter of course.  My most recent adventure involved driving and camping across the U.S. with one of my closest girlfriends.  While some of my planned adventures involve epic missions like hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park, I have had just as much fun sharing stories around a campfire with

Texan paddlers on the Animas River in Colorado, meeting real hillbillies at a bar tucked deep in the Appalachian mountains, and sitting along the curb in Friendsville, Maryland after a day of kayaking on the Youghighany River hap

pily chatting with my new raft guiding friends.

After paddling the rivers, climbing the mountains, and running the trails, I have an entirely new appreciation for just how beautiful and diverse the U.S. is.  But what really blows me away is how welcoming people can be.   Along the way, I’ve had people give me freshly picked raspberries, buy me dinner, show me the lines down the river, and let me sleep in their homes.

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