Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Best Father's Day Ever

Lightening the Canoe
Lightening the Canoe,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.
This Father's Day we took two trips down the lower Mt Fork River. We had a great time and met some great people.

One trip was on Saturday, we launched at around 9am and still managed to see dozens of other paddlers playing on the river. The second trip was on Sunday morning, as usual we saw fewer paddlers on Sunday. The Lower Mountain Fork River is lovely first thing in the morning. Since the source of the current is the hydroelectic generating dam on Broken Bow Lake, the water flows consistently cold and clear all year long.

Normally, we prefer the Sunday paddling since the relative seclusion aids in spotting wildlife and stuff. However, the Mt. Fork River is different. On this river, watching the other people paddle through the obstacles is at least half the fun! Paddling the Illinois is a fun outdoor activity, but paddling the LMF River is a watersport. That means 'dress to get wet'! Last summer, I provided lots of entertainment for the paddlers, as I sunk my boat time and time again.

Whether you choose a canoe or a kayak to paddle, you will encounter 3 main obstacles on this river. I don't know their official names but we call them: The Rock Garden, The Skinny Bit and The Falls. The fact that there are three main obstacles is a cool coincidence because I have three main ways of sinking my boat. Caution: these are not actual paddling terms, do NOT use them around experienced, knowledgeable paddlers...or you risk sounding as foolish as me.

Tumping the Kayak - This is a slow motion boat sinking that I tend to execute in shallow swift water. It begins when I misread the currents and get my kayak turned sideways and then bump into a big ol' obvious rock in the middle of the river. As the current pushes against one side of my boat, it lowers that side nearer to the surface of the water. Then as I look on in horror, the boat fills with water and dumps me unceremoniously into the river for a refreshing swim.

Tipping the Kayak - This method of wrecking is most often initiated by bumping into a rock or log, usually just under the surface of the water. I say 'initiated' because the cause of the wreck is my over-reaction (read: panic) and wobbling around in the boat resulting in an upside-down kayak and another refreshing swim.

Flipping the Kayak - Speed seems to be the key factor for flipping my kayak. Usually, it occurs either during or after crossing the falls. As the boat goes zipping down the falls, I raise my paddle high into the air. Alright, I made it! Then my boat zips over a slightly submerged rock at the bottom of the falls. The bottom of my boat hits the rock on either the left side or the right side and before I can even shout out a curse word...you guessed it...another refreshing swim!

This Father's Day trip was much more successful and thankfully much less 'refreshing' than last summer's LMF paddling trips. Using my own kayak instead of an outfitters much tippier Old Town Otter kayak made me much less nervous and kept me from tipping the boat over when something startles me. My new NRS recreational kayak spray skirt kept the kayak from filling with water everytime I got a little bit sideways and I was lucky enough not to flip the kayak on this trip.

Dianne also managed to make this trip down the river without sinking her kayak. The spray skirt we bought from eBay for her Heritage Angler definately saved her from taking a refreshing swim. She was paddling through The Skinny Bit and she tipped over so far that her shoulder hit the water. Thankfully, the spray skirt kept most of the water out of her boat and a quick snap of the hips set the boat upright again.

The only thing sweeter than paddling this river...is paddling it twice.


It's me, T.J. said...

Sounds like you guys had a *wonderful* time.

Glad you had a great Father's Day!


Thomas said...

Thanks, TJ!