Summer in the mountains is much too short and Friday was much too beautiful to stay inside, so I skipped out to play in my kayak on the scenic stretch of the Snake River. While rafting and kayaking was once my singular obsession, it has given way in the past 5 years to mountain biking, climbing, hiking and the like. As such, I was not as practiced in strapping my kayak on the car I’ve owned for the past 1.5 years. Apparently, this is something worth practicing.
As I put on the brakes to pull into the takeout and set the shuttle, my kayak abruptly slid forward. Jutting my right hand through the open sunroof, I gripped the kayak tightly while reaching across with my left hand to shift into neutral as my knee directed the steering wheel. Unsure of my ability to stop the kayak from bouncing off my hood, I came to an awkward stop while my friend drove by, looking at me quizzically. I got out of my car, face red, and explained that I usually strapped the kayak on in the opposite direction. Now I knew why.
This friend had never been kayaking with me. In fact, we had never shared any sort of outdoor adventure together. Having randomly intersected paths after some amount of time just a few days before, I was somewhat self-conscious of coming off as a total dumbass. Strike one.
My friend mentioned that his dog liked to ride along on the back of the kayak if I didn’t mind. I was more intrigued than anything by the idea (as were all the fishermen and drift boat occupents along the way). However, he had discounted my mention of “low water” and not realized that the lowest water he had ever seen meant some serious maneuvering and a few decent size waves.
The poor dog proved herself to be worthy of the adventure. After falling off, she would bee-line it for the nearest bank and run down until her owner could eddy out (pull over in slack water) and cajole her back on the kayak. For my part, I shouted out a few helpful “she’s falling” or “you just lost her”. The photo below is posted at a large size so you can read the clear expression on the dog’s face. It’s not photoshoped, I swear.
At one point we decided to stop and have a little swim in a large, calm pool. I gathered the courage to submerse myself in the not warm water and dove down with sunglasses on. They immediate floated off my face and I went ass-up, feet kicking in the air and knowing that if I didn’t find them in seconds, the river gods would claim another pair.
I spotted them through the filmy water and surfaced with them in hand, triumphant. Gasping for air, I explained that I had lost my sunnies when I went under. He answered that he thought I had taken them off before diving, which would have been the smart thing to do. Dumbass strike two. Luckily, we were close to the takeout (end of a river trip) and I managed to hold it together for the next 20 minutes (I think). I’m still in the game.