Well, today's adventure was particularly...shall we say...adventuresome.
I took my kayak out this afternoon on the Salmon River, putting in on Studley Hill Road not far above Chasm Falls. The autumn colors and late-day sun couldn't have been much more spectacular.
I was paddling upstream, and the current was a bit stronger than I had anticipated, resulting in a decent (and much needed) upper body workout. From the maps, I knew that I was heading toward the spot where Hatch Brook (a lovely stream I've seen from shore) flows into the Salmon, and thought it would be nice--if I had the stamina--to paddle that far, and then enjoy a leisurely float back to the car.
But just shy of a mile into my excursion, the river narrowed and a few downed trees snagged on some rocks resulted in a swift-flowing tight spot. (I hesitate to call it a "rapid," since that sounds so dramatic.) From the water's surface, it didn't seem like anything to much worry about, so I tried to attack it from this angle, then that, but couldn't get quite enough steam to win the battle with the current.
I guess that the river got tired of this little game before I did and decided, "Enough of him!" And there I was, taking an unexpected (and rather scary) October swim. What had first seemed such a blessing--that there was absolutely no one else anywhere around--suddenly felt like a big ol' curse. (These pictures were taken after, when I returned by car to the scene of the crime. It looked a lot worse from the roadside. What in the world was I thinking?)
I managed to rescue myself (most importantly), along with my kayak and all of my gear. (One of my Crocs got away from me for a bit, but was recovered later not too far downstream.) A not-so-graceful swim to shore with all this stuff allowed me to get about half of the water out of the boat (the banks were kind of steep here, so that was the best I could do) and start the drippy trip back.
Now, I've been kayaking for more than a decade (always with lifejacket, by the way), and while there's been some extra splashing on a few occasions when getting into or out of my boat, I've never actually flipped the thing before. I'm hoping it's quite a while (and maybe a good bit warmer) if I ever do so again.
Once again safe, dry, warm, only slightly sore (so far), and with most of the riverbed scraped out from between my toes, the whole thing has increased my appreciation for (1) footwear that floats, (2) the seat warmers in my car, and (3) dry underwear. The incident affirmed my longstanding adventure habits of packing the camera in a ziplock bag and throwing a dry towel in the car. Not to mention that--above all--this close call has renewed my respect for The Water--vividly reminding that, if you choose to tango with her, you'd best be ready to let her lead.