I started wasting my time on rivers as a young boy with a fishin’ pole. The Patuxent River was just a short walk down a lonely country road from my childhood home and many a summer day of my youth was spent along the riverbank. At the age of fourteen I traded some of my hard earned paper route money for my first kayak. Not willing to risk my new craft on the swift waters of the river, I walked a mile of railroad track with my new boat on my shoulder to one of my favorite small lakes. There I practiced making that pointed little craft go in the direction I desired and perfected my “wet exit.” A wet exit is an emergency move to get out of an overturned kayak. It was on that lake, down the tracks and deep in the woods, where I successfully completed my first Eskimo roll. A sweep of the paddle and a quick snap of my hips, and I was sitting upright again. Now I was ready for that river!
Over the years I have owned dozens of small watercraft. The time I spend on the water is some of my most precious. Whether a peaceful paddle along a glassy lake, parting reeds in a marsh or swamp, or dancing amongst the foam of a lively whitewater river, few things can renew and relax as just “messing about in small boats.”
We have several challenging whitewater rivers just a few miles from my current home and I plan to be on one of them this weekend, but I’m really ready for a road trip to the mountains, and the cool, fast moving waters that renew the spirit.