Sometimes I Just Gotta Go
It's a little frightening when I'm about to run a new river. It's doubly scary when I can't find out any information on the stream before I go.
I searched the internet, quizzed and checked the message boards, and phoned around to the outfitters for info on the last river I ran. No one seemed to know a thing about it.
I'd seen videos of kayakers on the river, but that was upstream of where I planned to put in below a pool. They were running hairy stuff, from the upper bridge down to the pool section. The stream is steep and narrow where they ran, with ledges and sharp turns in deep ravines.
I had looked at the aerial fotos, and I saw the rocky white water above the pool. But below that the river looked calm, and the topo lines fairly far between. Maybe that white section below the pool was reflected sunshine, sometimes you get that on those aerial maps.
The only way in was on a washed-out road that led to a stream running down to the pool. We had to haul our boats and gear in the last 600 feet on the ravine-ravaged rockway.
It was hot and heavy, but at least it was downhill. Then we had to line our boats another long stretch down the creek to where it met our river at the downstream end of the pool.
I tell this story elsewhere on my site, but it's actually not the story itself I want to talk about here. It's about a mind-set.
It's the feeling I got running a river for the first time, a river I knew basically little about.
It's trepidation, running down a stretch of rapids around tight corners not knowing what's ahead. And it's not just rocks to worry about, but wood as well may be blocking my way.
It's responsibility, not just for myself but for the brothers I persuaded to come along for the ride.
It's recklessness, knowing I'm days from help if I don't skirt the rock looming before me, and the next rock downstream after that.
It can be hardship. It can be serenity.
Yes, it may even be irresponsible. Or unreasonable.
It's humbling. Just me, in my boat on the water. But that's why its addicting. Why I do it.
It's a reconfirmation, an assertion of my vitality and my identity. I am the man, still and always.
Is it like that for you?
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