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Karlie Tipton, Editorial Assistant
Photo by JOHN JERNIGAN
Just Canoe It
By Karlie Tipton
June 15, 2012
As my canoe flipped over and I plunged into the ice-cold river, my melodramatic right brain thought, “This must be what death feels like.” Granted, my head and shoulders were completely above the water, but that was no comfort, since it would just make my drowning all the more embarrassing. Then it hit me, literally: not the realization that I would remember this moment for the rest of my life but the side of a rogue canoe. As my head dipped under the surface, my completely non-exaggerative left brain sighed “Nope. This is what death feels like.”
I’ve never been an outdoorswoman. I can’t walk outside for five minutes without being eaten by mosquitoes, I would much rather read a book than go hiking, and I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to sunlight. So when I found out I would be going to a cabin in the woods with my fiancé and his family over Memorial Day weekend, I was admittedly a little anxious.
“Will there be snakes?” I asked Phillip on the four-hour ride to Broken Bow.
“Will there be bears?”
“Will the snakes and the bears team up against us, forming a super team that can attack us by land or sea?”
“I’m pretty sure bears can already swim.”
Needless to say, his words were hardly a comfort.
As we pulled up to our River’s Bend cabin, I tried to ignore my snake/bear alliance fear and trudged inside. When I entered through the large glass doors, I was amazed. This was no log cabin of old but a beautiful, modernized bungalow complete with kitchen, air conditioning, and satellite TV. Aside from the deer head peering down on us from the wall, we could have been at home (although not my home, because this place was way nicer). Roughing it is overrated.
Over the next couple OF days, we had a great time. We were about twenty feet away from the Glover River, where warm water and a gentle current were perfect for wading and fishing. The grill got plenty of use, and the deck was canopied by so much foliage that I didn’t once worry about bursting into flame. I had forgotten all sources of trepidation, in fact, until I was reminded that we would be going canoeing. For four miles. The next morning.
The Lower Mountain Fork River starts at the Reregulation Dam, the source of the shockingly cold water, and requires skill level of I-II to navigate, thanks to some tight spots as well as a few small rapids. Maybe I could have passed for a level I canoeist on a Tuesday when the water was at a normal depth, but with thousands of people paddling around the four-inches-lower-than-usual stream, a IV would probably have been in trouble.
This brings us back to the beginning, or what I thought was the end.
Although it kind of goes without saying, I didn’t drown – despite nature’s best efforts. I was able to get back into the canoe and, with the help of Phillip’s very gracious brother, paddle to the pick-up point four miles up the river.
As we drove back to the cabin, I didn’t really know how to feel. I was cold, wet, and shaken from my near-death—okay, so maybe not quite near, but within shouting distance of, at least—experience. But then it hit me: I had kind of had an adventure. Poems would not be written about my quest, but hey, not bad for a proud indoorsman.