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... and In the Water

As soon as my father and I (letís not forget my sister) got the call from our neighbors, saying our wooden, salvaged boat was adrift on Pleasant Pond, we headed (quite miserably I might add) to camp grumbling about the "ark," our salvaged boat.

The chore that followed would be nasty. We had to take our 12-foot aluminum rowboat out and try to rescue our other boat by lashing one to the other and towing the water-filled, 18-foot ark back to our part of the lake.

I (being the one to do the hard work) was to sit on the front of the ark holding the tow rope with one hand and bailing with the other. Miraculously, the plan worked. We managed to drag the ark all the way back to camp from way down the lake and still be alive even with hypothermia from the chilly May waters.

Then my father had a totally different-from-this-morning idea. Since it was warm out and we were recovered from the agony of freezing, we should take Boat No. 3, the canoe, on the Sheepscot River where the water is even colder, the current is only about a mere 76 mph, and the rapids just happen to be HUGE for a small Neanderthal canoe like ours. So we called some people we knew, and we set off canoeing fully prepared for what was about to occur (I in black jeans and a sweater, my dad clad in paint splattered jeans and a jacket).

So we now set off on our journey to the wild river. After reminding me what a great journey this would be nine zillion (it seemed like) times, we finally drove onto the last of the numerous dirt roads in the middle of nowhere, where the river is so conveniently located. We climbed out of the car near a small falls and unlatched our primitive canoe from the roof, carrying it to the edge of the river.

The people we met surpassed us in light years with their equipment. They seemed to be ready for everything. Several pairs of gloves for anything from paddling to going to the bathroom, wet suits, dry jackets, Old Town canoes, and everything else that serious (actually insane) river-goers have just to show up regular people just like us who just wanted to have some fun canoeing.

The river was far from wild. It was ecstatic. The May flood waters were making the river almost dangerous. So being experienced, smart, and totally aware about what was going to happen we happily climbed into the canoe (almost dumping right there).

Awkwardly the journey started, my father and I in our junker and my sister in one of the safe boats -- but all of us in good life jackets. Presently it became chilly going down the river and rapids came up ahead. No big deal, I thought.

When we reached them in our tiny canoe they were A LOT bigger than I had thought. Water splashed over the front of our craft, soaking me and engulfing the canoe in water while rapids tossed us around like a hot potato. After this, as we floated swiftly down the deathtrap, I froze more every second and we had to bail nonstop. My clothes froze to me and water still splashed over the front of the canoe. The next rapids we came up to came close to throwing us over and we lost a paddle. By this time I was so cold my hands had fallen off in the river about a mile back and I was not on a fun trip anymore, but a quest. To be WARM again was the reward.

After an hour or so of grueling pain and near tip-overs on the giant rapids, we reached our destination and piled our pulverized and scratched canoe on the top of the car. I sat inside, recovering from hypothermia.

Remarkably enough, it only took me the month-long car ride back home through nowhere to recover from this adventure on the Sheepscot.

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© By Paul Adams