For the past several years I've donated a canoe trip for four to our scholarship auction. The purchaser and I agree on a date and off we go. Months ago we agreed on this weekend.
The plan was to camp at Pulltite on the Current River, but local flooding had kept the river closed all week. The Courtois was going to be our alternate location. We attempted to camp at Bass, but flooding there was pushing campers to higher ground. Finally we ended up at Huzzah Valley.
Upstream from where were had gotten 2.5 inches of rain on our arrival day making the outfitters nervous. On Saturday they weren't touching any canoes and decided to put in rafts during the afternoon.
We decided to paddle from Berryman to Bass. The water was up and moving nicely. There were 4 of us in 3 boats, so 2 solos and one tandem.
Based on conversations with the guys I mistakenly thought they had a bit of experience in canoes. Their experience was on slow moving water with mostly long pools and a few ripples. The speed of the current and obstacles quickly revealed their paddling ability. They were army paddlers and I was starting to get worried. The solo was doing okay, but the tandem was struggling.
For the most part I stayed close and on the inside of any strainers to lead them in the right direction. At least until they got a bit ahead of me. The river was mostly open with a low limb sticking out along the right bank. They hit it of course and over they went.
Getting the paddles and boat were quite a challenge, but finally I got to the boat and emptied it with the help of one of them. He then attempted to paddle it solo. When we finally got organized the tandem crew decided to switch bow and stern positions.
As we came into the Blunt's slab I got ahead to check it out. The water was right at the top of the slab, but there is a safe place to get around on the left side. I pulled over and got on the bridge to direct them to safety. As I was pointing to their left they went right, hit a tree, and went swimming again. I caught the boat as it came into the slab and pulled it on top.
After that I took one of them in my boat for the final four miles of our trip. The final leg was filled with rafters than had been put in just after lunch. The rafts can typically bounce off trees and rocks, but we did come upon a boat hung up on two root wads. That's were the throw line comes in handy. We got the raft free and finished a nice day on the river.
Back in camp on of the guys noted that he now knows why you need to wear a life jacket on the river. The water was too swift to stand if was over your waist. He also wondered what they would have ever done to get the boat.
Overnight the Huzzah dropped about a foot, so on Sunday we headed to Harper's slab to start. The guys made it safely down and were more inquisitive about how to handle a boat.
Despite their troubles, it was a nice two days on the river. There's no time like river time.