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Dusty Kahl and Karrin Gerber head out on their quest to conquer the Texas Water Safari. After the duo came up just short last year, Gerber and Kahl have teamed up in the hopes of finishing the course for the first time
Daily Record photo by Colton McWilliams


The Witches of the 666 is a play on San Marcos’ infamous zipcode 78666 and thought up by Kaarin Gerber.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo


Kaarin Gerber and Dusty Kahl, surrounded by family and friends, enter their canoe on Friday for the Texas Water Safari.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo


Sunday, June 11, 2023

Local ‘witches’ look to put magic touch on Water Safari

A pair of local witches have descended upon Texas Water Safari. These witches have traded their broomsticks and wands for canoes and paddles.

The team of Kaarin Gerber and Dusty Kahl teamed up for the 60th Texas Water Safari under the team name, Witches of the 666, a name that Gerber came up with.

“It comes from the 78666 zip code,” Gerber said. “There is also a local bottom string band who have a song called, 'Witches,' which one of the lyrics is, 'Those Witches from the 666,' which is about the women of San Marcos. Also, we just like witch stuff.”

A local, it has been a goal of hers to complete the famous river race.

“Growing up in San Marcos, this race has always been around,” Gerber said. “It’s been a dream to me because I love long endurance activities. I’ve also had some friends complete it so I wanted to give it a go.”

Gerber and Kahl competed in the race last year but with different partners.

Due to the circumstances of needing different teammates, the duo fell into together in the best way.

“It just kind of happened,” Kahl said. “We realize that what we are saying is not about emotion, such as I hate you. I used to be in the Army so there are times that I will accidentally bark something out and I don’t mean it like that. But she understands that it’s not a barking order but instead it’s my natural convection.”

Because of their level of trust and communication, the duo looks to conquer the course that gave them trouble.

“We are similar in ways but we are very different in a good complimentary way,” Gerber said. “We process our personal relations to the point where we, for the lack of better word, just chill but also have a strong sense of self worth where we can communicate opinions without it being combative.”

Because of the late start on their partnership, the Witches of the 666 have been grinding to work, not only on their paddling skills but also in knowing each other.

“One of the goals is to get as many miles on the boat as possible,” Gerber said. “We started late together because we had a change in partnership. But since mid-March we have been trying to paddle every weekend doing different stretches of the river. The best thing to do is just paddle in the boat.”

In fact, just knowing your own partner is one of the biggest factors in completing or not completing a race which Kahl learned the hard way.

“We just do it,” Kahl said. “You just paddle and get to know how each other thinks which is a big thing. Last year, my partners and I were unable to mentally sync up which made things go all kinds of wonky.”

One of the ways the duo looks to succeed in a simple one.

“Definitely communication,” Kahl said. “Just talking with each other … She can’t see anything that I’m doing so she has to trust me blindly.

As Kahl mentioned, trusting your partner is perhaps the most important thing when competing in the Water Safari.

“Trust is also involved,” Gerber said. “With her [Kahl] being in the stern, she is in the driving position while the bow is the motor which makes me the eyes. If I see something, she has to trust that I’m doing something for a reason. Then vice versa I have to trust her when she tells me something.”

Perhaps the best advice from the duo with regard to completing the Texas Water Safari might be the simplest of them all.

“Just keep moving forward,” Kahl said.

coltonbmcwilliams Twitter: @ColtonBMc

San Marcos Record

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