MAY DAY IN MONTANA

Part III of V

Previously: On a Kayak trip with two friends, Sandy encounters trouble.

 

I am under thewater, traveling at great speed, and I realize I have to let go of my paddle so I can use both hands to get out of the kayak. The spray skirt is not slipping off its rim as it should.  I kick loose and come up in time to see I’m approaching a large group of boulders. I spot a break between them, too narrow for both me and my boat.

I kick down and find bottom, push the kayak ahead of me through the gap and dive through in pursuit.  My paddle catches up with me, and when it whacks me on the back of my head, I am able to grab it.

As the paddle and I swing around the next bend, I start swimming for shore, but my kayak’s skirt [My kayak’s skirt goes around my waist and around its top rim and keeps the water out. It is designed to flip loose if I overturn so I am not trapped inside.] is caught around my knees and I can’t kick. I’m floundering and Carolyn is yelling at me, “Hurry up!  Your kayak is getting away!”

A last push toward shore and I find bottom again. I scramble ashore, kick off the skirt, throw down my paddle and run along the bank toward my boat.

Carolyn has captured my capsized kayak, but it is full of water, weighs a ton or so, and is dragging her downriver. Meanwhile, Cheryl has beached her kayak and is running behind me.

I am sloshing along in my water-filled booties, running as fast as I can, but the river is moving Carolyn along faster.  She manages to paddle a little with one hand, holding my kayak with the other. She shouts, “Hurry!  I can’t hold on much longer! It’s pulling my shoulder apart!”

I make a last desperate dive into the river and am able to grab the bow of her boat.  This stops her kayak, but almost dislocates her shoulder from the pull of mine.

At this moment, Cheryl arrives and grabs my kayak, taking the weight off Carolyn. They get the boats on shore and turn to check on me.

I notice for the first time I am panting hard–more from excitement than from running–and water is streaming off me still, but I’m surprisingly calm inside.   

Sandy (May ‘14) adds, “Here is another example of the power of water. Who would have guessed that a kayak full of water weighs well over a ton? And, unless one has tested oneself against it, who could guess at its power to destroy?  This real river experience is a perfect analogy for the “River of Life.” I am carried along, powerless against it. I can fight the current and get into all sorts of difficulties or I can choose the safest route, out in the middle of the river, going with the flow and dodging obstacles as they arise, trusting that I  can deal with them one day/one minute at a time.” 

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