My Deliverance from #31
I managed to avoid not only banjo music but also any opportunities to see if I’m half the actor Ned Beatty is in what was easily one of the coolest experiences of Amtrekker so far.
Here’s the quick back-story: About a month and a half ago I got an email from Carolyn at www.wildwaterrafting.com saying they wanted to help me out with #31 on the list. Wild Water Ltd. operates on five rivers but the one I couldn’t wait to get out on was the Chattooga River near Long Creek, SC.
“But why the Chattooga, Brett? Kind of a silly name don’t you think?”
Well, welcome back, Disembodied Voice. Haven’t heard from you in awhile. But thanks for asking! (And, you’re right, kind of a silly name.)
So as soon as I got the message I called dibs on Burt Reynolds’s character and set things up for the next time I was near South Carolina, a.k.a. now.
(My thoughts always get kind of disjointed when I get excited so you may have to bear with me.)
The Chattooga is, no joke, one of the most beautiful rivers I’ve ever been down. It was designated “Wild and Scenic” by the government and definitely qualifies as both. I felt completely isolated from the rest of the world nearly the entire time I was trying to maintain my balance and avoid finding myself floating bottom up dragging my head against the river bottom.
Larissa, my instructor/guide for the day, started with a quick rundown of all the ways I could kill myself if I decided to act dumber than usual and then spent the next twenty minutes with me in a calm stretch of river showing me some basic maneuvers. I learned how to brace (using the paddle to not flip over) and how to escape the overturned kayak if I fail at bracing…but we decided to skip the “Eskimo roll” in favor of more time on the river. In hindsight I kind of wish I had tried it once just to get a feel for how difficult it is, but I made it through the day without flipping anyway so no big loss on the short term.
Even looking back with an imperfect memory it was still a great day. Amazing weather, good water temperature and a boatload of fun. I’m not sure how much of it was Larissa trying to boost my ego but I was assured I was “kind of awesome” and that it was unusual for a first timer to make it all the way down the river without flipping.
The rapids were a blast! And after awhile we stepped it up a little bit and started practicing catching the eddies behind rocks. By the time we reached the end of our set Larissa was sufficiently impressed to allow me to run the last half of Bull Sluice (definitely not the first half). This particular rapid was in one of the early canoe scenes in “Deliverance” and the Wild Water Rafting folks were kind enough to get a couple awesome shots and some footage of me not dying.
But did the awesome end there? Nope! Carolyn took me up to North Carolina and the rafting company’s Nantahala digs and set me up in a yurt for the night! Almost as cool as the kayaking itself was the amazing campground I had all to myself. So there I was after having crossed off yet another item from the list and already having a fantastic day when suddenly I get a hot tub in the woods to myself and a huge comfy bed to sleep in! It still blows my mind how kind people are everywhere I go. Carolyn and Wild Water Rafting treated me MUCH better than I deserved and I can’t thank them enough.
The next day I even talked her into going down the Nantahala with me in an inflatable kayak. (That was about the time she tried to talk me into sticking around and becoming a river guide.)
(Lot’s more pictures in the Photo Album!)
In other news: I just found out I have a warrant for my arrest out in Utah!
Want some karmic bonus points? Why not donate?
Don’t let me stop you.
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