Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Canoe Trip Tips & Then Some

Or I suppose the "& then some" will actually precede the helpful tips.

Remember Splash Mountain? The ride at Disney World where you lazily float through an animated land of friendly forest creatures before you take a deep, yet exhilarating plunge down the side of the mountain? Yes.. you do? Well, my experience 2 miles in on the Saco was NOTHING like that..

To quickly relay the rest of the story, I worked out harder than I had since 1999 - literally. I could hear people yelling "JUST PUT YOUR FEET DOWN" from the sides of the river, but even with the whopping 2 feet of my condensed body rising above the water, the rapids were having their way with me. I felt like Forrest Gump - I just kept running.. yet it was far beyond my control. And did I mention that Carrie continued to battle the rapids with our canoe about another fourth of a mile down river? Thank goodness that she did.. otherwise, we would have missed out on the thunderstorm and beachside bellowing [read: sloshed singing] that our friends enjoyed later on in the day.

Anyway, as luck would have it, two of our friends were able to pull over into a cove that was being relatively unaffected by the rapids. All of the belongings that had fled our canoe ended up in this area, so they were able to recover mostly everything for us. I believe there was actually footage of our debacle captured, but that was destroyed.. or should have been. Why on earth would I want to publicize the 10 years of swimming lessons / swim team skills that were anything but obvious during this obstacle? Clearly, in the end, I was rescued. I had to grab onto another wishing tree sprouting up from the lake and was cast a rope from a kind stranger. Unfortunately, after he pulled me in, his rope remained stuck on one of the branches. I sat on my perch until he was able to make it back to the river bank, and then continued to tackle the Saco!

Canoe Trip Tips
  • Call ahead for reservations > We used Northern Extremes in North Conway for our canoe rentals & I highly recommend them.
  • Check weather forecast and the status of the river before beginning your journey > We were told that the river was running quickly that day, but clearly I had no idea as to what that actually meant.
  • Familiarize yourself with the landscape and route of your particular trip > Though we weren't white water rafting, I felt like I was in "The River Wild" at times.
  • Learn how to paddle ahead of time > I did not do this. It led to a few lovers quarrels along the way, but once we flirted with death, we swore we'd never argue again.
  • Make sure that the stronger & more experienced person is in the back of the canoe > This is ideal for the person that doesn't want to consume as many adult beverages as the other person in the canoe.
  • WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET > Hindsight is always 20/20.

That's just a brief list and by no means authorized by any professional. If you have experienced similar situations out in the throes of nature, feel free to share your story!Saco Survivors

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