We arrived at the campground on a Friday and got camp set up. Zack wanted to hike along the rocks so we headed to Millstream Gardens Conservation Area. We started near the shelter you can see in the distance below and made our way downstream along the rocks.
A group of four kayakers were making their way down the river and we moved along the rocks staying in line with them. Not on purpose, we were just moving at a similar pace. That is until a rock moved when I stepped on it.
Of course the rocks are slimy and slick and into a shallow pool of water I went. The water wasn't shockingly cold and I just kind of laughed a bit, stood up, and then realized my phone was in my pocket. I handed it off to Zack to keep in a dry pocket and decided we would go into town and get some rice to help dry it out later.
I was wet from my shoulders down, but we kept walking for a while. The slim from the rocks was all over my pants so I was worried about staining. I've ruined pants this way in the past.
We eventually headed to the truck, went back to camp for dry clothes, and headed to WalMart. There I got the rice for the phone, as well as stain remover and laundry detergent.
The phone was unusable for the weekend so my plans for a few photos were squashed. Interestingly the phone works, but only with the stylus. It won't recognize a finger swipe or finger touch.
Anyway...on Saturday we were up early and to the gathering area on time. It took a while for them to get organized, but we ended up with a good group. Our instructor was Slim. Mike, John, and Steve were the safety boaters for the trip, but also helped with instruction. They were all great about giving tips and answering questions. The clinic participants in our group were brothers Jim and John, Mo, Bev, and the two of us.
After getting the shuttle together we were off to Fisherman's to start our day. Mike led us in some stretching and we headed to the water. We spent about two hours in the pool, eddy, and ripple at Fisherman's working on strokes, peeling out, eddying out, and ferrying. Of course I got over zealous and went swimming during a ferry.
We stopped at Millstream for lunch and then headed toward Big Drop (photo below from Whitewater Race weekend).
Zack and I both made it successfully through Big Drop on Saturday. It was a fun run, but Cat's Paw came next. A few in a our group decided to portage around Cat's Paw, Zack included. I attempted to run it, but slammed into a rock, got out of position and hung on to the rock and bottom until being rescued. I lost my paddle while holding on and tried to move my boat backwards into a small eddy but struggled against the strong current. Mike came into the eddy, got out, and tried to help from the rocks. Slim came towards me yelling at me to get my arm out of the way before slamming into me (no doubt the hit would have broken my arm) and correcting my angle on the rock. That allowed me to get out and then down to the bottom using my hands as paddles. At least I stayed in the boat.
It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed our time learning strokes and moves and we went down the river. I swam two more times while playing in rapids. One was a silly mistake, but on the other I bit off more than I could chew.
After peeling off wet gear we hung around the pavilion for dinner and Zack played Frisbee golf with some guys.
The weather was wetter and cooler on Sunday. We gathered as a group and headed back to Fisherman's for more ground instruction and stroke practice before heading down the river. At Hollywood beach we practiced hip snaps, T-rescues, and some of us rolled. I was two for two.
Zack was bragging about staying in his boat. John asked him if he had ever heard about karma.
Karma was just about to smack him in the face. Zack made it off Big Drop fine, but flipped quickly after. He pulled his skirt, but wasn't getting out. Several boats headed to him and I jumped out of mine to get him out. He was all but out by the time I reached him.
Being upside down for between 10 and 15 seconds startled him and he was shivering. We got some food in him, Steve gave him another top, and a small group of us headed down the river ahead of the others to get him off and warm. He was hesitant to run anything after that, but only portaged around Cat's Paw. My Cat's Paw run was successful on Sunday, but I bit it on the bottom end of Rickety Rack.
We got Zack off the river around 2pm. By that time he had warmed from all the paddling, but was hungry. After changing into dry clothes we headed home.
Overall it was a great trip and I will definitely do the clinic again in the future. Zack and I also plan to head back down there in a few weeks for some stroke practice. Without other boaters we won't run any of the rapids, but we will work on peeling out, eddying out, and ferrying.
Maybe next time I won't mess up my phone and actually get some pictures or video.