Thursday, November 1, 2012

The River Guide

Last Saturday, Andrew and I went on a four hour kayak trip down a stretch of the Etowah River in north Georgia. First time kayaking for both of us. The sun never came out; the wind stung our cheeks much of the way and made us paddle hard just to go downstream; the work made my arm and shoulder muscles knot up and pinch; I ripped open a cuticle because my knuckles kept scraping the kayak whenever I dug the paddle into the water. I had to make an emergency stop and climb up a bank to pee in the woods. More than once, navigating over and between boulders in the shallow water, our kayaks wedged to a stop and nearly overturned.

But we're already planning our next kayaking trip. 

Because we didn't take our phones or camera, I have no pictures of my own from the day, but you can see some more gorgeous pics from other trips on the tour company's website.

Whenever I look down at my arms I see new muscles and think of how after a while the counter-intuitive nature of steering and paddling became normal. I think of how the water felt surprisingly warm compared to the air. How I saw blue heron and, for the first time, a kingfisher and a bald eagle. How the giant sycamore leaves stuck to my paddle and black walnuts as big as tennis balls bobbed beside our kayaks. How a woman in a lawn chair facing the river waved at us and called, "You're the first paddlers I've seen! I just moved here two weeks ago!" I think of how I learned to detect boulders by the way the light curved off the surface of the water above them.

How it felt to be carried along by currents who knew the way through the riffles and were a helpful guide if I kept pointed in the right direction.