Tom McGuane once remarked in his book of essays, The Longest Silence, that he had always been fascinated by moving water. I know exactly how he feels. I doubt that my life would be anything like what it is today without that love. As a guide, writer, teacher, and canoe builder, each part of my life centers around moving water. From this has sprung a love of rock climbing, hiking, camping, and so on. But in all of these endeavors it seems that I am inevitably moved towards water. I love to share my love for these things with friends and family like anyone else. But sometimes the act of sharing these things can be much more enjoyable than first imagined.
It was Friday afternoon and I was frantically trying to get everything ready for a weekend of camping, photo shooting, kayaking, and God willing, a bit of fly-fishing.
Needless to say like most everything that we rush, it was a mess. But all that being said I was overjoyed at the prospect of the coming weekend. My girl friend Adrian and her four year old son Loghan would be joining me on this adventure. I had it all planned out from top to bottom. It would be the perfect adventure for all of us.
But of course nothing goes as planned.
When I arrived at her house I was convinced I had everything. We loaded up and hit the road. But as soon as we were riding to a little slice of heaven, Adrian asked me if I had any baby wipes. I was like no, of course not. Then I came face to face with the fact that my little buddy, Adrian’s son, was still four. Well we stopped by Wal-Mart and Adrian went in while Loghan and I fiddled with my fly box. I’m trying to give him a firm foundation in real fishing. But needless to say we had his Spiderman rod in the truck too. I guess you must crawl before you run. Well Adrian came out and we hit the road again. By the time we reach Centreville I got a call from an old friend, Patrick Leach, who asked me what we were doing. I told him we were going camping and we were looking forward to taking Loghan kayaking the next day.
Well it turned out that he was in the area and would meet us to help set up camp. Needless to say we were grateful. It is about a quarter mile hike to camp from where we parked. So we got there and set up camp and I began getting ready to cook dinner and let the man roast a few marshmallows, when I discovered I had forgotten the buns. I asked Pat, who had come to help us, if he would run into town and grab those very buns that I forgot, while Adrian and I finished setting up camp. He was good enough to do so. Good friends are irreplaceable.
Well as I aired up the air mattress for Adrian and I, I discovered a hole the size of a dime in it. Well if that isn’t par for course I don’t know what is. I ran up to the top of the canyon as fast as I could to hopefully get signal on the cell phone to get a hold of Pat and beg for duct tape. I managed to get a hold of him and he told me he would bring some if he found any at the store.
When he got back we had supper going and I was enjoying a frosty beverage while Adrian kept Loghan entertained. He had bread and liquid picnic, but no tape. Well by the time we hit the sack, Pat was riding home, Loghan was full of hotdogs and Marshmallows and I was looking forward to a warm bed and so was Adrian.
Aside from the lack of cushion I slept like a rock and woke at dawn to enjoy a cup of coffee and the mist burning off the river. Soon Adrian and Loghan were up and moving. I contemplated slipping away with my fly-rod but instead opted for breakfast. Camping makes everything taste better, even my cooking. With that done we got the man dressed and went hiking. Loghan played in the pools while Adrian and I took photos.
Finally it was lunch time, and we took a siesta after eating. When I awoke, I let Adrian and the man continue to sleep as I started packing up camp. I knew that all too soon the weekend would be over and it would be back to civilization. After I got everything but the tent and its content up to the truck and I was walking down, I saw Adrian up and enjoying the warm afternoon sun. I paused for a moment and enjoyed the view.
She smiled and waved and broke me from my daze. I got down the hill to camp and we woke Loghan and I toted the kayak down to the water. Soon after Adrian was set up to take pictures and I had Loghan in my lap in the cockpit of the kayak and we paddled in the pool. Loghan of course loved it and the air was filled with the laughter of a small child and his mother. After I took the kayak back to the bank I switched places with Adrian and I took mother and child below the shoals and let them paddle in the calm river below.
For me it was an odd trip, I had all the tools to enjoy the river. A kayak for the white water, a fly-rod for the fish, and they were both simply used to share something and someplace I loved with those I cared about. In that moment I knew exactly why people like the Nature Conservancy worked so hard to protect these areas.
As I watched them play, the words of Frank Lloyd Wright came to mind, “the longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes”. I couldn’t agree more.