Do You Canoe?

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Do you canoe? It's wonderful, you've got to try. A quiet and peaceful way to travel, with enough room to pack everything you need for an extended trip. Gliding silently with grace and speed. I went canoeing with my Father as a kid and I bought my first canoe in the late 90's. I chose the Dagger Caption and bought it from Outdoorplay when they first opened. I outfitted it with two seats, not really sure if I was doing it properly. Everything had to be glued in by hand, I even covered the ends in kevlar for reinforcement. I like boats I don't have to be too careful with, there's no doubt I will be dragging it around and crashing into rocks. I chose bright yellow and my friend, who's Dad worked in the banana industry, got me a huge blue Chiquita sticker. It was a sight to be seen on the river. During my years as a river ranger it was my favorite craft to take on patrol. My job was visitor contact and everyone wanted to get a closer look at the big banana. Whenever I sit paddling in my canoe I feel a primitive past in each stroke as if I have done this many times before. It feels magical.

I know a lot of canoeing happens in flat water, but I have a weakness for whitewater. A canoe acts a bit like a log ride once the gradient gets steep. You pick up a lot of speed and turning becomes more difficult. What I like most about canoeing in whitewater is the way class II can feel like class IV. And when you actually paddle a class IV rapid, your heart is pumping like a rabbit and each stroke counts. The triumph of surviving the hydraulics upright is intense and exhilarating. Although sometimes things don't go according to plan and the river reminds you how tenuous your feeling of control really is. Swimming a rapid with a floating bath tub and trying to drag it into an eddy can be hilarious, once you've come thru the meat unharmed. Since my canoe is set up for two, you always have a buddy to share in the adventure. My canoe has been upside down all winter providing shelter for wayward slugs. The sun is starting to shine more often and I'm daydreaming about getting out on the water.

Do you have any canoe stories for me?