MAY DAY IN MONTANA

Part II of V

 

Photo from a report by Adam Johnson

Photo from a report by Adam Johnson

Previously:  Sandy and two friends have put their kayaks  into a river for a day of being with nature.

The water is white and foamy where the boulders form rapids. I hear them before we come upon them. As we kayak closer, I have to make split second decisions about where to go between the rocks, where to dodge a half-hidden boulder and where the flow might throw me against an obstacle.

Photo from a report by Adam Johnson

When the river is this swift, it has a power that is difficult to imagine. It can be measured. When we looked up the flow this morning, it was running at 418 cubic feet per second, but, the numbers do not tell of the current’s enormous strength or its dangers –when it can suck me down and hold me under. It doesn’t say where it can fling me at a rock, or whirl me into an eddy or draw me on a course I do not want to take.

Carolyn is in the lead as we approach the first rock garden. She swings left with the current and darts right, between the boulders and disappears from view.  From my position at the back, it looks as if she has a clear run.  Cheryl is next. She paddles hard right as she goes into the curve.  Then, it is my turn.

There is a set of boulders coming up fast and I cut to the left of them, following Cheryl.

Too late, I see that we both made a wrong choice.  Cheryl is stronger than I and is able to pull to the right in time to miss the next set of rocks on the left.  I don’t make it.  My kayak tilts on its right gunwale and I lean out to make the turn. When I slam into the rock, the impact forces the kayak over.

(To be continued.)

 

            Sandy (Apr.’14) adds, “It is hard to describe the preplanning and split-second timing required to successfully negotiate white water. It is part of the challenge and adventure and adds a mental element to the experience.  Mistakes, however, as in rock-climbing, can be fatal. Part of the thrill, therefore, is in surviving and discovering the power of the elements.”

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