In writing, honesty counts. So I write to you about today's disaster. I set out on the Keystone Rapids, north of Traverse City on the Boardman River. I thought I was holding my own and yet, my Pelican kayak had less maneuverability than the river required. Logs are left in the river, no matter how badly logs obstruct the river. A sign at Beitner Landing explains how fallen trees create habitats for fish. My kayak made for the trunk of a fallen tree, despite my paddling hard left, and collided. My kayak tipped and filled rapidly with cold, rushing water. I got out and the current washed one Croc right off my foot. Standing among boulders on a rocky bottom river, I attempted to slide loose my kayak, which submerged, pinned to the tree and a big rock. After about a half hours of struggle, I made for the shore with less slope and thought about my options. I brought my wet bag, containing my key fob, my iPhone5 and my wallet. My pint paddle once I reached the dam on the south end of Boardman Lake had been canceled. The Filling Station would have to wait until I dislodged my kayak. My wet bag failed, and my iPhone smelled that scent of electrical burning when I turned it on.
I made a second walk across the water to the log that had claimed my kayak, leaving all my items to dry on a log. I pulled on the front handle numerous times, wondering how much a ten foot kayak filled with water weighed. Cold water saps strength, and I gingerly walked to the shallow slope and contemplated my options. Road service for kayaks doesn't exist, and I was pretty sure the Coast Guard shouldn't be bother rescuing a boat that cost less than two hundred dollars. The submerged boat, I reasoned, made for a river hazard and constituted littering. And I wanted it back. I also wanted to drink deeply of a quart of Powerade waiting for me at my car. I could drive for resources and assistance with my car.
I remembered a saying from my Chinese Buddhist class. "Keep Your Row Boat in the Universe and it Will Never Be Lost". Yeah, I answered my mumbling personal philosopher, "I would rather keep my kayak on my roof rack".
Remember how McClain from Die Hard wins the day as he runs on broken glass with bloody feet. I had one Croc. On my right foot, I pulled the wet bag over for a slight bit of protection as I walked through a field of pine needles than a meadow of tall grass. Stones caused winces. I trespassed through the yard of a person with pirate flags and three kayaks. I thought of knocking on his door and asking if the house had a winch. The grassy yard led to a long driveway and then to Beitner Road, where my car awaited a click from my fob.
Fob had suffered a wet fate too and wouldn't work. Luckily, the ignition key worked in my passenger door and I could unlock all the doors, except the hatchback. I drained a quart of PowerAde as if it could inebriate me. I decided a bit of rest, a meal, and I could take another try to recover the kayak. I drove to McDonald's, ordered the Big Mac Meal with Supersized Fries and paid with a wet twenty. Clerk set it aside and placed a dry one from his pocket in the till.
A trail passes along the Keystone Rapids, with lovely vistas built cantilevered over the chasm. I didn't have to walk far to find my kayak eating tree. It had submerged more deeply. I walked the trail to see if there was a likely place a swamped kayak would drift and catch once it broke loose, and I saw a few places with considerable obstacles. It was fast water without too many more logs left over from the logging days, and I longed to give it another try, although the thought gave me terror. At least, I had a pleasant walk along a wild river to show for my day. How Buddhist to think that. A Buddhist can enjoy a strawberry on a cliffside seconds before his hand grows too weak to clutch the hillside. At least I hadn't fallen in the water, hit my head on a stone, gone unconscious and drowned.
Wearing a pair of hard soled shoes I had in my car, I made another attempt to cross out to the log and free the kayak. I had to slide down a loamy bank ten feet in height. The book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" talks about gumption traps when solving problems. I had fallen into a gumption trap. I had strong nylon rope in the car and a Sharpie for labeling the kayak, yet I set off without them. If I just could shut off the flow of the river for a second. I thought a pail attached to a rope and connected to the front handle could pull the kayak from its pinch point, given a capacious bucket, the current filling the bucket. A covering over the cockpit would lessen water rushing into the interior, lessening the force ramming it tight? I just tugged on that front handle with all my weight and might. Then I tried kicking it free. Getting tired again, I picked my way back to the shore and scrambled up ten feet of slope with the aid of trees and shrubs. The sun was low in the sky.
Replacing the cell phone was a matter of dropping by a Sprint store on Airport. A trip to the Subaru dealer has made Tuesday's task list. From the Sprint store, I called 911 to report the submerged kayak. I had to explain myself. I wasn't looking to tie up first responders with a kayak recovery. I wanted to make sure the responders didn't drag the river looking for a lost kayaker. She logged location, kayak description and my contact information. I promised to return to the log and try again to remove it.
I might have to return with a hacksaw blade and cut the kayak in half. It's a hazard and it must be freed. My inflatable kayak is white water rated, and I am sure it would have bounced off the log. Even if it were caught, loosening the air plugs would have immediately reduced surface area. Maybe if I buy a second kayak, I can attach that one to the submerged kayak, using water power to break it free.
And maybe it has freed itself, and it coasts down the Boardman like a Flying Dutchman. A scavenger might have claimed it at property, a kayak in the flotsam.
"Edward S. Curtis Collection People 035" by Edward S. Curtis -