Monday, July 13, 2009

Down the River in a Canoe...

Follow the link to this amusing story about three guys who paddle the length of the river between Hancock NY and Philadelphia - late 19th century. It says a lot about how people can view the same thing so differently.

Case in point: Foul Rift. It's a notorious set of rock-studded rapids just below Belvidere, NJ that scares the bejesus out of the locals. For a paddler of average skill and experience it is no big deal. In fact it's a delightful run straight down the PA side of the river.

Seven years ago a fellow canoe instructor worked with me to train about eight girl scouts between the ages of 14 and 17 (plus two adult leaders). We taught them tandem canoeing in heavy tubs (Old Town Discovery 169's) and on the 5th day we took them through Foul Rift. They handled it with no problem until the end when the two very best paddlers of the group flipped on the big rock at the bottom of the rapid. But they were trying to do an eddy turn in front of that boulder in strong current - a tricky maneuver for such young paddlers.

The fear of Foul Rift is like any other fear - born of ignorance and in the case of novice boaters - ineptitude. Although...sometimes a dose of the heebie-jeebees can go a long way in keeping even the experienced paddler alert and ready for action. That's the difference between fear of the river and respect for its power.

Thanks to Tracy for turning me on to "Down The River In A Canoe."