Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hunt for the Great White Sea Bunny

Sunblock? Check. Grapes? Check. Time tested approach blown to Hell at the last minute resulting in a mad dash to remedy the situation no matter the cost? Check. Behemoth canoe? Check. 45 year old map? Check. Vague sense of direction? Check. Three pound drill hammer? Check. Bike lock? Check. Time to rock.

My first canoe trip was spent sitting in the boat and not allowed to paddle. That was left to my sister and Mean Patrick. Yobahoo intermitently threw mating frogs into the canoe and that's about all I remember: frustration and frog sex. The second time I was actually allowed to paddle and my camp counselor and I beat a pair of boy-campers in a race. So she put me in the camp's grand finale relay race. I was supposed to go another time senior year, but due to a fractured vertebra I was thwarted. H, her friend, and velocibadgergirl took me to the Blue River when I was out of the brace to make up for it. Canoeing became my favorite hobby. For seven summers VBG and I have run the Blue and made it our bitch. We aren't the strongest chicks, but together we exceed the sum of our parts.

This year, the eighth run, was an unexpected test of our skills. Less than 48 hours before our trip we discovered the livery wasn't renting canoes until May. Not cool. She got a topo map from 1962 and some internet map-ishness, I arranged to haul my (and MacGyver's) canoe. I love having a canoe, but I am not so fond of this particular model. It will always have a special place in my heart because MacGyver presented it to me at our wedding reception and I have spent some wonderful afternoons in it, but GODDAMN! The motherfucker weighs nearly 80 lbs, is 3 feet wide, and 16 feet long. He tosses the thing around like a rag doll and I can barely manage to hold my end over my head. Anyway, we get to the general location of our put-in and the real roads do not match the map roads. We get some directions that involve only right turns (but no road names) and we're off. We find Rothrocks pretty easily after 3 right turns and lock the canoe to a sign. Finding the take-out was more of an adventure. After a few more right turns I know we are lost. I know because what should have been a highway is a road in BFE. We find a farmer who gives us directions to the bridge, and after 2 more right turns we're there. Then we just have to leave the her car and retrace our route, which is pretty simple since it is all left turns.

At the put-in we got some advice from a random kayaker and a hand with the green leviathon. I stop freaking out and rejoice, because the day is absolutely perfect. The water is fast and high (and wide), the sky is true blue, the squirrels are hanging upside down, and we don't see another person for hours. Usually we have to portage several times since the water gets so low. This year we flew through rapids, averaging 3 miles and hour and getting up to 14.3 on the sweetest rapid I've ever experienced. I was airborne, we almost hit a tree, I nearly lost an oar, the waves were two feet high, and it felt like flying. Canoeing with anyone is fun, but with VBG it goes to another level. I prefer sitting up front and paddling on the right, she likes to sit in the back and paddle on the left. She is the only person I've paddled with who moves right in time with me, after a while our thoughts start to sync up and one of us says just what the other is thinking. We saw wood ducks and mergansers but no otters. We saw an otter the first year and I have ached to see another.

The drive back was reasonably exciting, we decided to try a different road, one that may have been the road we saw on the topo map that would have made getting to the put-in easy. Soon the "road" turned into a one lane gravel...strip, there were uphill hairpin turns that nearly froze us in our tracks, and everything was pitch black. Since I didn't have a clue as to where we were or how to escape, we chose directions randomly. Eventually we found our way to the interstate and I had a horrible realization that if the metal part of the canoe carrier that I had been hammering failed, the canoe would fly off the truck and possibly kill my best friend. OR I could hit a deer while driving 75 mph. My brain is so sadistic sometimes.

There was never a bloody tragedy and my mind has been punished with Kahlua and a good scolding for fucking with me; rather, we drove a lot, ate more food at Denny's than is generally regarded as safe, and went far too long without a shower. Next year's trip has a lot to live up to, and then we'll have a tenth year trip to awesomize. Maybe a two day trip? Maybe a week in the boundary waters? Maybe coastal kayaking? Definitely another trip that proves we are not Danger and Adventure for nothing.

1 comment:

velocibadgergirl said...

Hip hip moo!

And welcome to Blogger!