This is the second part of the story; if you haven’t read the first part, you probably should.
The next morning we crawled from our tents in our half-made camp site. We had arrived late at night and pretty much just put up the tents and went to bed. Well, we went to bed after some fellow campers yelled things like “Hey Assholes, I’m trying to Sleep!” Apparently we are loud tent setter uppers.
I made a breakfast that consisted of coffee and bacon, turkey, egg and cheese sandwiches fried in the bacon grease. (I guess you could add cholesterol to the list of things trying to kill us.) “What should we do this morning?” I asked, blowing on a cup of coffee to cool it.
Mitch dunked his sandwich in the remaining bacon grease. “Lets take the canoe up the river and check out the fishing.”
“Ok,” I said. “I’m in, what are you guys going to do?” I asked Skip and Rob. Rob said “We’re going to go into town and buy some beer and smokes, meet you back here.” “and more bacon” Skip added.
We put the canoe in the water along with some fishing tackle and small cooler of beer and paddled up the slow moving river. The river was mostly populated by some lame fish that didn’t want anything to do with our flies. We kept paddling in search of trout.
Eventually we came to a small set of very mild rapids. “Dude,” Mitch said, “I have a great idea. Let’s carry the canoe up to the top of this and ride it down.” I looked at the rapids; the water was fast but not crazy and there weren’t a lot of rocks. Actually, it looked borderline awesome.
“Yes,” I said “let’s do exactly that.”
The canoe snickered to itself. It could not believe its good fortune, another chance for mayhem was within its grasp.
Because of the terrain we followed a trail that, for a short while, left the river to get around some bad thickets and boulders. We rejoined the river about a hundred yards up where it made a sharp turn that obscured the entire rapid section. How bad could it be I wondered, it seemed pretty easy back where we left it. I could hear more water noise than before echoing off granite walls, but we couldn’t see around the bend.
“Should we scout it more?” I asked
Mitch shrugged. “We can just paddle the canoe out and take a look, if it’s too hairy we’ll paddle back.”
We put the canoe into the water and paddled out into the river to take a look. As we rounded the bend in the river we saw rapids one could describe as, “significantly too hairy.”
“Oh shit, we should turn back,” I said, seconds too late. The canoe was already being absorbed into the ever quickening current. We looked at each other wide-eyed for a second and began to paddle frantically. I suddenly remembered in vivid detail promising my dad that the canoe would be well taken care of.
We almost out-paddled the current. Almost. I partially blame lack of experience with canoeing as a team, as our desperate strokes turned us sideways. I mostly blame Mitch. Being momentarily sideways helped the river and canoe team up to suck us into the rapids. We finally got it straightened out and were paddling frantically upstream when we entered the rapids… backwards.
“We need to turn it around,” Mitch yelled
“Fuck that, hang on,” I screamed as I used my paddle and some knuckle skin to shove away from a rock. A second later we skidded right over the top of a big one and into a boiling cauldron. My father’s beloved Penobscot canoe was emphatically not a white water raft, so I was doing everything in my power to keep it from getting destroyed on rocks and logs. The “turn it around” thing happened too, several times and not in any kind organized fashion.
Mitch took my command of “hang on” to the next level as the canoe actually barrel rolled with us in it. I ejected and was swimming at this point, but Mitch was miraculously still in the canoe when it came back up. A happy side effect of the barrel roll was a lot of water was in the canoe now and had significantly stabilized it.
“It’s ok, I saved the beer!” Mitch called pointing to the cooler that was now half floating in the half floating canoe. We had survived and Mitch coasted through to calmer water. I swam over and helped drag the now extremely heavy canoe to a beach where we took inventory.
The canoe was disappointed again, though it did enjoy watching me search for paddles and fishing gear for an hour. I forgave Mitch, because he saved the beer. Which we then drank.
Behind us we heard the rattle of Rob’s old car pull up and the doors opening and closing.
“Dude guess what we scored off some locals!” Skip called.
To be continued…
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Whew! For a moment there, you had me worried. All is well that ends well.
Thank the lord for mates who can keep their head in an emergency! I bet those beers tasted good.
Always save the beer.