I’ve canoed since I was a child. I’ve paddled lakes of all sizes and rivers that ranged from easy flowing streams to raging rapids. In all that water, I’ve never tipped my canoe.
That all changed last week when my husband and I, and some friends, paddled down a remote wilderness river. The air was chilly but the river was beautiful. We floated past shores lined with giant cottonwoods, thick willows, and dense evergreen forest. Moose foraged along the shores, ducks and geese hid their young in the reeds, and eagles soared overhead. Rounding a bend in the river, my husband put down his paddle to take pictures. In minutes, the fast current swept us too close to shore. The next thing we knew we crashed into a sweeper (a tree jutting into the river), and the canoe flipped.
The first icy plunge took my breath away. We were wearing life jackets so we weren’t going to drown, but my concern was for my elderly dog. She was stuck under the canoe and terrified. If she got away, she wouldn’t be able to swim for long. I grabbed her and held her tight. The water was over my waist and the current swept my feet out from under me, but I managed to make it to shore and set the dog on dry land. Somehow, my husband held onto the water-filled canoe, though much of our gear floated down the river.
Our friends paddled like mad and retrieved most of our stuff, and they started a fire on a gravel bar. We managed to turn the canoe over and grabbed our dog and climbed back into the canoe, and paddled to the gravel bar and the hot fire where we changed into dry clothes.
Other than a few bruises, wet clothing, some missing equipment, and damaged egos, we survived. Had it not been for the quick thinking of our friends, the situation would have been much more serious. Moral of the story…never travel alone.