Monday, March 14, 2011

Camping and Kayaking at King's Bend

For the second year in a row, I planned a camping and paddling trip to take place on the Locust Fork of the Warrior River during Spring Break. Last year's trip was nearly a total disaster ("nearly," only in that we all survived in-tact). I immediately knew this trip would prove more successful when we arrived at the right river. Last year, I got confused which direction to turn on County Road 26; so instead of putting in on the Locust Fork (on right), we put in on the Mulberry Fork (on left).


Unfortunately (or perhaps, in the end, it was fortuitous) that stretch of the Mulberry has some whitewater; additionally, the river was pretty high because of recent rainfall, both of which we were unprepared for. Three people in a sixteen foot canoe, laden with food and drink enough to last us the whole of our two-day camping trip.

Within twenty minutes of putting in, we hit our first set of rapids. Since I was at the front of the boat, I could see that it wasn't going to go well for us, so I got as low as I could in the floor of the bow. Gallons of icy water poured into the bad as we hit the first wave. This made us even heavier, so that we were sitting lower and took on even more water after hitting the second. We didn't hid the third wave so much as blunder into it; at this point the canoe was essentially submerged. We were still sitting in it, but even the gunwales were entirely underwater. Then we hit a rock and were dumped out along with all of our belongings. Daniel was thrown clear of the boat and could be heard laughing hysterically, some twenty or thirty feet from Matt and myself. I scrambled to swim toward the watertight box containing our phones, GPS, and other essentials. Matt had the foresight to grab the boat. Most of our food was lost, as was my Flip camcorder, my lifejacket (which I wasn't wearing, of course), and an oar.

After we were able to beach the boat, after being driven downriver for a while, we were able to begin to collect our bearings. Everyone's limbs were still in tact. We were down to one oar. I was pretty certain we were on the river, and now had no idea what was ahead of us. We were in the middle of nowhere and had no choice but to carry on. Once we mustered the courage to re-embark, we began to come across some of our orphaned belongings: a bag of bananas, a cooler with our water and sandwiches, and here-and-there oatmeal creme pies.

Finally, we came upon civilization, a farm house atop a bluff - our salvation. We beached the canoe, called it a day, and ended the trip effective immediately.

This is the only photo I have to show for the trip
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But that was last year. This year, I ended up in the water much more quickly, but at least I was in the right river. And since I didn't lose my Flip this time, I'll let the video tell its own story of our trip.




Here are a couple of photographs.

For more information about the North Jefferson Kayak Club and its activities, visit our website and/or our Facebook page.

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