When I was asked by some women I mountain bike with last week what we had in store for the weekend, my response was that the plan was to ride our bikes and drink too much beer. I figured we would probably throw in some kayaking because it’s gotten so damn hot here and it’s nice to be out on the water. I wasn’t thinking that we would be throwing in some white water tandem canoeing though. For starters – I didn’t even know it was a really a “thing”. I knew that Dwight had one and had mentioned taking it down the Nantahala one day. He said he could do all the work and basically I could just sit in the front and enjoy the ride. Sounded pretty good to me!
So, after a really hot mountain biking ride out in Mills River on Saturday, followed with beers at the Wedge, we started talking about getting out on the water at some point Monday because Sunday was a ride up to Mitchell. Out of the blue I had the genius idea of taking the canoe down the river. It was supposed to be hot again so cold water sounded great and it would be something new!
We met some of his old paddling buddies down there and off we went. Well, Dwight quickly realized that he was not going to be able to control the boat with me in front. Apparently, I was going to have to quickly learn how to paddle a canoe in white water. He looked concerned by this new reality. Probably because my learning curve was REALLY BIG when it came to mountain biking and now here we were stuck together in a canoe. Seriously – this could have ended really bad. Luckily though, my learning curve was quick. Yay!!!
I’m pretty sure it had everything to do with me just listening to Dwight telling me what to do and me trusting him. He’s a paddler with decades of experience. Me – not so much. It would have been incredibly foolish of me to not listen to him. And on top of it – I didn’t seem to have any fear. Big help!
I learned the importance of the back stroke when steering the front around rocks. I learned how to do a Duffek Stroke to help us get in eddies. This actually turned out to be super important to know how to do before we headed down the last set of rapids. I learned how to find proper eddies (again, important). It was a day of learning!!!! So, when we got to the final rapid, we got out of the boats to scope out what lines to take and what eddies to get in. We watched a guy piton into a rock kinda blocking the eddie we wanted to get in. We watched a guy roll over and have to bail from his kayak. Then we watched some chick staring at the falls with the look of sheer panic not wanting to get out of one of the eddies. So, this might explain the look on my face.
But we did it and it was a blast!!! I nailed the duffek stroke for the eddie and I didn’t do anything stupid that would roll us. Success!!!!
In all seriousness, it was actually a whole lot of fun and Dwight is so excited that I don’t suck at it. Seriously – sooooo excited. He is already talking about different rivers we can tandem white water canoe down. Looks like we’ve got a new sport that’s loads of fun to spend our time doing.