12/23 Messing About In Boats

Downes Hut to Hipango Park

25 k

Another early start puts us on the water during that magical hour of simplicity and bewitchment. As it is the morning, I am back to loving canoeing. The day cycles like this: the morning is beautiful & easy= I love canoeing. Eventually both my and Prana’s attention spans erode. He starts making little games for himself involving pretending to tip the boat, and paddling in different geometric shapes, which I believe makes more work for me in the back. We each get fussy. The wind starts. The afternoon becomes an epic feat of mental endurance = I hate canoeing. We pull into camp. A magic combination of food and sleep brings forth the regeneration of the next morning, when no muscles ache, there is not even a wisp of breeze, and Prana and I are both patient. Repeat.

The restlessness comes early today, and we pull over for a snack break and discover we have over half of our kilometers in for the day. Prana agrees to switch to the back, and Ellie decides to try her hand at the stern as well. There is some zigzagging of the newly captained canoes, but things smooth out. A small rapid presents no problems; then we reach a maze of downed wood. Mario and Peach and Jo all find a solution, and Prana does well squeezing through a deep tongue close to the island, with a surprise log lurking below the surface at the already narrowest part. We turn to watch Captain Mouse’s run.

We don’t see exactly what happens, but we see the aftermath, which is the canoe turning sideways, and Ellie and Bro climbing up on the side, then onto a log that is crossways to the current. “Let’s go!” Prana and I land on the island, grab our paddles and bow and stern lines, and walk the shore until we are even with the marooned sailors. The canoe is on its side, open top catching most of the current, and 80% underwater, but the two of them are unharmed and safe. When it becomes obvious they are not going to be able to free the canoe by themselves, Jo stands watch upstream for incoming boat traffic, and Prana coaches Bro in coiling and throwing his bowline to shore. On the fourth try, I am able to snag the rope where it lands in the river with the T-grip on my paddle, and there is just enough length to tie our bowline to theirs. With the extra working room, Prana Mario and I haul on the line while Bro and Mouse lift the front of the canoe out of the current. It releases with surprising ease, and swings around to rest next to the island. Bro and Mouse slide over the log and swim to shore, and we all start bailing. None the worse for the wear, Mouse isn’t ready to relinquish her captain’s license yet, and takes a try at round two.

We are on the lookout for Hipango Park, a reputedly nice place to camp that isn’t clearly labeled on our maps. We kind of know what we are looking for, and approximately where, and that it is a historic place that steam ships docked. It is getting dangerously close to lunchtime when we see a tiered wooden porch/dock, and deem that if this is not camp, then it will do fine for lunch.

Prana leaves in reconnaissance and returns with glad tidings: camp! We still choose to eat on the tiered dock before dragging all the gear up to the flat area. Even with a rescue, we are at camp by noon. Another winning reason for early mornings.

The afternoon drains away as they always do, with napping, reading, writing, puzzling, chatting and joking. We share our last dinner on the river and the girls all drift to the tents early while the boys run themselves haggard over the serious business of crossword clues. I will probably be asleep before Prana makes it to bed.

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