Monday, August 9, 2010


As the paddle floated away on the rapids, I was glad I had packed an emergency paddle in our survival kit. Of course, when we were all waiting at the end of a long long riff of rapids, and still no sight of Arvo, carrying all the emergency supplies, I did wonder if I should have parceled out the food and blankets in case we had to wait overnight. And as our "one hour" "float" edged onto three hours, Matt asked, "Does any of this look familiar?"
"It all looks familiar. We have been intimately acquainted for three hours."
Of course what he meant was the take out point- where I had driven to park the getaway car when we finished.
"There is no way we can miss the take out point," I assured him. (Unless of course we have been in sun and heat for three hours past dinner time and our brains have melted and fused onto the back of our skull, which now that you mention it....)

But all those could-be disasters ended well. We caught the escaped paddle, Arvo reappeared having had to walk a good portion of the rapids and riffs as the water was too low there for his heavier weighted kayak, and the take out point burst into view shortly after Matt's question to me.

The terrifying dam where we had been warned kayakers are sucked under whole, only to reemerge, if lucky, on the Yangtze River, turned out to be just another fun rapid. In fact, the trip, while a tad longer than we had hoped for with water that was a tad shallow in spots so we had to scoot the kayaks forward by shimmying our bottoms, was sheer delight for me.

When we launched the kayaks, the first section was very fast with a lot of small rapids. I had never done rapids before, so I was scared, but we all negotiated them and I think only a few blood vessels burst in my brain. The water was not more than 6 inches deep there, so even capsizing would not have caused any injury more severe than leech attack. (Actually, I don't think leeches like rapids and I had salt in the emergency kit to shrivel them in case of attack). The water was calm for a while for us to get our sea legs, and then every few minutes, there were more rapids. By the midpoint of the trip, I was beginning to be able to discern the shape of the water flow that most easily would carry me unscathed and unbottomed-out over the rocks. I enjoyed it so much that I think I would like to try Class 2 rapids now.

We followed a great blue heron for much of the 6 mile trip. Geese were everywhere, and not happy that we were invading their river. We were the only boats on the river that we saw. I think the river is a bit too shallow this late in the summer and everyone else knows that. However, we had it all to ourselves, with the geese. The geese had goslings that bobbed like corks over the rapids trying to outpace us.

Wildlife was everywhere. At one point, my heart stopped when Arvo pointed to the nearby shore and screeched, "Is that a bear!?" Since I know bears swim, I was ready to reach into my emergency survival kit for the air horn and the bear repellent, when Matt said,
"That's a cow, Dad."
It is easy to confuse the two until you go to milk them, of course.

Sheer limestone cliffs (or granite...or maybe gneiss- I just don't know my rocks very well) towered over the right shore, and thick forests were on either side of us.
"I feel like we are the first people ever to be here!" I exclaimed.
Karissa glanced at the steel fancy observation deck with benches on the shore.
"OK, the second people. The ones who built that were probably here first," I conceded.

But most of the trip, it was utterly quiet, save for the sounds of the next set of rapids, and peaceful greens and blues and leaves shimmering in the sun. As we pulled the boats on shore at our take out point, I flipped my inflatable kayak over to wipe it down. Two 6 inch slashes were in the bottom of the boat, cutting the protective outer rubber right to the inflatable air matt on the floor of the kayak. I was a quarter inch from having been deflated at some point on that float. Now I had emergency patches, pumps, and duct tape.... but it would have been MOST inconvenient. I breathed a prayer of thanks to the gracious Lord of the river and my life that had stopped the rock a quarter inch from slicing our adventure apart, not to mention my bottom.

Psalm 116:6,8-9
The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. [8] For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, [9] that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.


  1. NEVER take a gneiss rock for granite. :D

  2. Cute, Asherel!! : )

    Sounds like a fun day!