Sunday, February 3, 2013

Duper...we have a PROBLEM!

February had arrived, the rivers were at a nice level after the recent rain and the snowfall the night before set the scene for what should have been a great winter kayak trip.  Dan (extending his streak to 87 consecutive months), Tom, Katie and Russ set off on what was planned to be the North avenue to Beecher route. All was good initially until we rounded a bend and saw a large tree creating a major blockage.  With a 2 foot ice shelf guarding the 4 foot high bank, the kayakers were facing some crucial decisions. While finding a place to get out for a potential portage was proving difficult, the unknown prospect of trying to successfully get back into the yaks after the tree ultimately sealed the deal. The decision? We would paddle back upstream and abort the original plans.  While it involved more effort than we typically like to exert, things were going well until we hit the "rapids".  We would have to portage if we liked it or not. Taking advantage of his insulated waders, Dan got out and pulled Katie to a safe spot while Tom and Russ looked for another option.
Russ, Katie and Tom enjoy the majestic winter beauty not knowing what was around the bend
While the snow can make for a beautiful backdrop to a winter kayak trip, it can also hide unknown dangers to the unaware. After struggling up the steep embankment to "solid" ground, Russ and Tom set off upstream to scout out a re-entrance point to the river to continue the trip back to the cars.  They had only taken a few steps when old man winter kicked Tom in the teeth.  What he thought was a safe spot to step turned out to be trap.  As the ground gave way, Tom plunged into the frigid water below.  The shocking bite of the 33 degree water caused Tom to scream out in shock.  Dan whipped his head around just in time to see the smirk on Russ's face that seemed to say "I knew you shouldn't have stepped there dumb@$$ !!"  As it turns out only one leg went in about knee deep and disaster was avoided.
A desperate Tom reaches out for assistance from Russ 
Once everyone was safely back in their kayaks, the paddle upstream was without further incident.  Back on shore the group stood next to their ice covered gear and enjoyed a nice cold bottle of brew.  Topics changed quickly from the ice cold temperature of the beer, to the need for upgraded winter kayaking gear to the changed kayak transport situation due to the altered route. Attempting to be funny Russ pointed out that his truck and kayak were already here and all he had to do was make the quick trip back home (thus stranding Dan with a kayak, no car and no ride). Not receiving the panicked reaction to his comments that he was hoping for, a few minutes later Russ repeated his whimsical comment hoping maybe that the group would think he was really serious if he said it again. Dan took the bait and disgustingly said "If it wasn't funny the first time you said it why did you think it would be funny the second time?". The group enjoyed a chuckle, sucked down the last few ounces of beer and loaded up the gear all agreeing that this adventure was a first (and one that no one would want to repeat).  Till next time...see you on the river.

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