Gragtmans goes solo.I rarely paddle alone anymore. I used to do it all the time when I was younger, but the idea of my own mortality is much more present now in the way that I approach moving water. I know that there is zero margin for error when I am out there solo.On this particular day, however, I find myself at the top of a snow-dusted class V creek all alone. I got here through a series of reasonable decisions, but now I am staring at the vapor of my breath in front of me, and trying to decide what to do. Should I wait for my friends who I’ve been trying to catch on the 3.5 mile hike up this river? They may be upstream or may have already passed me on their run back down to the cars. There was a miscommunication and another group didn’t want to run this section… but I still wanted to go kayaking.Big Creek is a familiar run, but it is running at a high level of 3.4, and I don’t know the current wood situation downstream. One misplaced log that has fallen into the river can mean the end of a paddler’s life. I calmly go through a stretching routine and take a look around at the beauty of my surroundings. I have gained about 700 feet during my hike, and due to that elevation change, the scenery has gone from mostly dry to about two inches of snow covering the landscape.After about 20 minutes passes, some of the warmth is being sucked from my core by the still winter evening air. It’s time to do something. I put my GoPro on my bow and seal myself into my boat. Daylight is slowly fading.The first rapid is a big one, and knocks off the cobwebs from my time out of the boat over the past little while. The water is cold, but feels incredible as my boat skips through the curlers like moguls. My hip flexors and obliques warm up with the effort, and I stop in the next eddy to do one final stretch. I also take a big gulp of freezing cold water from one of the side streams. A funny image jumps into my head of Indian Jones drinking from the holy grail.When I hit the current after that, I know that the next 30 minutes of my life are going to be incredible. This is one of my all-time favorite creeks, and it is running at an excellent level. Plenty of padding exists over the smooth Smoky Mountain boulders, and I’m on a magic carpet ride that the Earth has created for a few lucky people. I skip and charge through holes, over drops, and from one side of the river to the other. The muscle memory is there from previous runs, and I just need to time it properly.I keep expecting to see others hiking up the trail, but it appears as though I am the last soul on the river today. Surely the masses will show up tomorrow morning as the water drops to a more popular level.As I pull into the eddy above the biggest rapid, I sit for a second and gather my thoughts. A new piece of wood peers up from the first drop and spooks me a bit. I walk around this first five foot ledge and put in below. There is no one to talk with about decisions. That process must occur by utilizing the various voices inside my head that present different scenarios. Zero margin for error; conservative is best. I put in and run the last 2/3 of the rapid, which is amazing! I give a loud yip, but there is no one there to celebrate with, so I just continue grinning and paddle downstream. Rapid after rapid blur by, and I never look back… there is no need to. I am one person in charge of my own destiny.Life is so simple… river and rocks. My only job is to find where to go. My brain is still on high alert for stray wood, but I have endorphins dripping from my pores. There is nothing quite like being in the woods alone and using all of your senses to take in what’s around you.I round the last corner to the takeout, and smile again at what I have just experienced. I must be the luckiest person on the face of the planet.Author’s Note: Solo kayaking is without a doubt not a wise decision, and I am not recommending it. It is always best to have friends around you to share the experience with, and to assist in the event of an emergency. I have only soloed creeks that I have done many times, and I don’t go out with the intention of soloing anymore. Make good decisions, and enjoy however you choose to experience the river.
Jobs That Pay, Press Release, Workforce Development Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced the most recent impact figures for the incumbent worker training program funded through the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). This past year, the administration supported the training of more than 44,000 employees at more than 800 companies statewide. A total of 120,000 workers at more than 2,200 companies across the commonwealth have been supported through the program since the beginning of the Wolf Administration.“Workforce development is one of this administration’s top priorities due to its enormous benefits for both employers and workers,” Governor Wolf said. “Incumbent workforce training programs not only help businesses ensure that their employees have the skills they need to thrive in their work, but it also benefits workers who can use the training as a way to gain expertise that leads to higher-paying jobs. We’re proud to have supported training that has led to more than 120,000 success stories for Pennsylvania workers.”DCED provides funding through the Workforce & Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania program to companies to assist specifically with incumbent worker training. The program is administered through a network of educational partners that include community colleges and universities across the commonwealth. Eligible in-state businesses and out-of-state companies relocating to Pennsylvania can apply to access training funds which in turn can be used for a wide range of training based on the needs of the employer.From the start of the Wolf Administration through June 2017, a total of more than $25 million in DCED funding supported the training of 120,462 employees at 2,245 companies. In the most recent full fiscal year alone, Fiscal year 2016-17, DCED supported the training of 44,003 employees at 806 companies with just under $9 million in funding.By focusing exclusively on incumbent worker training, DCED’s program serves as a complement to other state initiatives to develop the workforce like apprenticeship programs, STEM education, and career and technical education. Incumbent training enables employers to better adapt to the changing global economy through their current workforce rather than hiring brand new workers – or moving to other areas with a greater supply of a specific talent base. For workers, incumbent training programs not only strengthen job security, but lead to more advanced and more marketable skills.“In order to strengthen their workforce, more and more companies are looking inward at how to develop their own employees, rather than outward through hiring new ones,” said Thomas Venditti, statewide director of the Workforce & Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania (WEDnetPA), DCED’s flagship incumbent worker training program. “This program is a valuable resource for businesses looking to develop their workers because it enables companies to expand their employees’ skill sets, teach them new technology, and create a more productive environment.”DCED’s incumbent worker training program is a vital component of Governor Wolf’s initiatives designed to strengthen Pennsylvania’s workforce by equipping workers with the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly-evolving global economy. In his 2018-19 budget, Governor Wolf proposed PAsmart, a new workforce development initiative to improve coordination and services across commonwealth agencies including training and business engagement activities within DCED and the Department of Labor & Industry. PAsmart provides a $50 million investment in education and job training to improve access for Pennsylvania students and workers to education, training, and career readiness programs. These targeted investments for 21st-century skills will assist employers with meeting their workforce needs.For more information about the Wolf Administration’s commitment to workforce development, visit the DCED website or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube. April 18, 2018 Governor Wolf Announces Administration’s Efforts Helped More Than 2,000 Companies Train Their Existing Workforce SHARE Email Facebook Twitter