Friday, June 6, 2014
A Day on the River
The Third Annual BAA Shenango River Kayak Expedition took place this week. This event is typically sponsored by the Shenango Valley River Watchers group and is supported by 50-100 canoes and kayaks.
For one reason or another the group canceled this year's June event.
It was on receipt of this news, on an early morning walk, with a complete lack of caffeine in her system, someone (I'm not mentioning any names but she lives at my address), stated that "we didn't need an organized trip. We were perfectly capable of doing this ourselves at a time that was most convenient."
A plan was hatched. A date set.
That was the first mistake.
Yesterday was the day. The weather was a mixed bag of sun and clouds with temperatures hovering in the low 60's with a light breeze. (Remember this, it's important.)
I wish I could report that the trip was uneventful.
That awards given for the best near death experience (first and second place),
the most miles walked on a kayak trip,
and the pig-pen award for best belly flop into the mud were not necessary.
I would like to tell you all of that, but I can't.
It all happened, and within the first 30 minutes of a 3 1/2 hour excursion.
To start off the fun, yours truly found herself kayak-less and clinging to a downed tree for her life. Up to her neck in river water while the swift current threatened to have it's way with her. After what seemed life forever, she managed to secure her footing and make her way to shore.
There was no grace involved in any of the maneuvers. Not the ones that got me caught up in the swift moving current and sideways against the tree. Nor the ones that resulted in my kayak filling with water and being swept out from under me. And especially not the ones that had me literally hanging on for dear life to said tree. No grace at att. It was more like a panicked bid for survival and it wasn't pretty.
After making my way to the river bank, I stood dripping wet from head to toe wringing out my sweatshirt when I looked up and witnessed...
The Colonel following in my footsteps. (I thought those military types were smarter than that.) Somehow, he too managed to get caught up in the swift moving current ending up sideways against the tree. Within seconds his kayak and paddle were floating downstream while he waged the same battle with tree and river that I had so recently fought. He is taller and stronger than I and apparently more graceful (well, perhaps not, I believe flailing was involved) and soon made his way to shore while his kayak and paddle were corralled by our now slack jawed companions.
The result was two soaking wet kayakers, two swamped vessels, and several more gray hairs added to the overall collection.
After a short delay when kayaks were emptied and paddles returned to their rightful owners we were on our away again.
It only took ten minutes for the next crisis to unfold. The Principal had an altercation with a protruding rock The rock won. She too found herself waist deep in the river and kayak-less. Though her life was not endangered, she ended up walking not only down stream, but over hill and dale and eventually down main street before finally catching up with her swamped vessel.
It's true folks. I can't make this stuff up.
Now there are three people soaking wet. That is when the weather gods frowned. The clouds rolled in and the breeze kicked up. Did I mention the temperature was in the low 60s? Felt like 30.
The long hard winter had taken it's toll on our little river. Several large trees were down across the stream making navigation difficult and at times impossible, especially for the lone canoe in our band of merry travelers. While the kayaks were able to squeeze around theses barriers the canoe could not and had to be portaged.
You see what's coming don't you? MUD.
Thick, odorous, and deep.
It was on one such occasion the Coach found himself knee deep in muck and mud. After successfully toting the canoe around the barrier, getting it back into the water became the challenge. Spying the mine field of mud before her, his princess bride quickly scrambled to higher ground leaving the Coach to the dirty work. Bravely he waded in and slowly he sunk, deeper and deeper into the muck. Knee deep and apparently releasing the odorous gases that had been accumulating beneath for 20 years.
It took some finesse but he was able to work his way free, get the canoe back in the water and his bride safely aboard (dry and mud free I might add). It was then that disaster struck. While attempting to get himself back into the canoe he found himself with one foot in the boat and one in the mud. Stuck again. It wouldn't budge. It was at that precise moment that the canoe shifted sideways launching him belly first into the mire.
It was an ugly sight.
But it certainly was funny.
The remainder of our trip truly was uneventful, but by the time we reached the finish line I was too cold to care.
After a very long and very hot shower I was able to put the day in perspective....
It was a memorable day on on the river. I can't wait to see what next year brings.