Canoeing: Adventures Provide Plenty of Book Material
Spring had finally sprung, and the canoeing bug was sitting on my right shoulder whispering in my ear, “It’s time to hit the river.”
I’ve been paddling a boat or canoe just about all my life. First it was with my dad, grandfather and uncles in the low country of South Carolina on rivers with the Native American names of Black Creek, Little Pee Dee, Big Pee Dee, Waccamaw and Edisto.
As a youngster, I dipped a paddle in their tea-colored deep waters and enjoyed the magnificent scenery that can be seen only from a small watercraft.
During my early days on the rivers, the water had a slow lethargic current that only required a little steering from the stern. If I wanted to move faster than the current, I dug in the paddle and pushed the boat ahead under my own steam.
My last great flat-water adventure began on Drowning Creek. The plan was to drift and paddle to the Lumber River, on to the Little Pee Dee and the Big Pee Dee, then end the trip at Georgetown, S.C. and the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
My two good friends John Mills and Andy Alcroft joined me on this little trek and someday I want to write a book about all our misadventures as we paddled south. There were many.
Later, after college and a move farther north in the state, my slow-moving, laid-back rivers disappeared. It seemed that every river I crossed featured a flow of water that had a mind of its own. I watched and wondered at these marvelous stretches of untamed water. I always thought that, finally, here was a flow that required little work paddling. All a person had to do was ride.
My two good friends Dick Coleman and Phillip Motley were my accomplices on our first white-water adventure down the Haw River. The plan was to float and paddle the Haw until it merged with the Deep River and became the Cape Fear River, then end our trip at Wilmington, N.C., and the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
Fortunately, all three of us were familiar with the great outdoors and were almost experts in the art of survival. We also thought that we were equally qualified to paddle a canoe down most rivers.
Unfortunately, no one told us how a river that seemed sedate and calm, just slow current only requiring paddlers to miss a few rocks mid-stream, could change with a little rain.
Unfortunately, it rained not a little but a bunch right before our trip, and we found the normally serene river transformed overnight from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. Someday I want to write a book about all our misadventures as we paddled south. There were many.
After our Haw River experience, I graduated to white-water paddling and acquired another canoe designed specifically for that sport.
The 16-foot Kewaden with a wide beam and rocker bottom was like a skittish Kentucky stallion, and it threw me several times before I finally mastered the art of paddling white water.
We battled the Haw, the Nantahala, the Ocoee, the Nolichucky, the Chattooga and many more before my bride convinced me that I was getting too old and might kill myself. Someday I want to write a book about all our misadventures with white-water paddling. There were many.
Tomorrow, I’m going to take the little Kewaden canoe out of her winter quarters and get her ready for some more rivers; but, thank you very much, before we start I’m going to explain to her that I have enough book material.
Contact Tom Bryant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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