No Such Thing As Pride

There is NO such thing as pride on the River. Go ahead, think you got it figured, and She will gladly teach you humility….

Yes, there’s a story behind that statement.

As some of you may be aware, we are developing a plan to rehabilitate access, develop conservation projects, and a huge list of other goodies to show love and stewardship for our Lady. Part of that plan requires a physical assessment of the River. Todays trip was part of that assessment. 

The reason I am capitalizing the River pronouns is because She reminded me of my place repeatedly today. 

The water was low, 3’3” low. Low enough that there were many lean spots where navigation was a challenge. The worst spot was at the old water works below Conestoga woods. This spot can be tricky when there’s good water, because it’s a hard left to right transit in a short distance with plenty of loose rocks from the old dam to ping pong off of if you choose the wrong line. Well, I’m a smart fella, and a cautious boater, so we got there and I scouted the rapids to be certain of my line. Once I was sure of my course, I paddled upstream, got lined up, spotted my entry and sent it…..

She said “No”.

She said no ten yards in to those rapids and grabbed the bottom of my boat with stony fingers and I came to such a hard stop I nearly launched over the bow… Well, crap. Now what? Well, first things first, I’m in no immediate danger, I’m just stuck. So I call out to Brian that he should portage/ walk his boat. Which he does with reasonable grace. By this point, I’m out of my boat with decent footing and considering my own options. Walking out was going to be a real challenge. Slippery footing, big rocks trying to grab my ankles, and (even low) a concentrated flow of water pushing relentlessly on me with every step. Wrangling the boat with all this going on wasn’t an option, so it got released for Brian to catch. Now, getting me out without breaking something. Walking was a no, crawling was a no (too deep) so what to do? 

So, about that pride… I decided to swim the rapid. This is done by putting your feet downstream, lay on your back, and float free. Sounds good in theory, right? Nope.

What got me free was this bizarre combination of float, crab walk, butt scootch that left any dignity I may have previously possessed laying on the rocky riverbed. Not a pretty picture at all….

But. I’m here to tell the story. Further, I’m here to share that even when the water is warm and not terribly deep, it can put you in a bad spot if you’re not 100% certain of what your doing. 

So, to reinforce the message…

Don’t paddle alone.

Wear your PFD.

Know your route. 

Know your capabilities.

Prepare for the worst case scenario.

See you on the water.