The idea of Florida being home to Class III white-water seems, even to native Floridians, somehow absurd.
There's so little altitude (just ask anyone with actual mountains! Hi Granite State!) it's hard to imagine how the rapids could develop.
But they do. And I was so happy to receive photographic proof that our tough adventure fellas took the smart way around the Shoals.
The Ultimate Florida Challenge started Saturday a week ago, which makes this (quick finger-calculation) Day 13.
So yesterday afternoon, our intrepid adventurers, Moresailesed and TwoBeers portaged around Big Shoals. Buoyed by the experience, my favorite skipper told me by phone that they planned to take a break, and then paddle some more using a two hours on/two hours off system. It was hard to resist the lure of the positive current.
Late last night, he called again. He started with, "I don't know how we didn't biff."
These are words that do not soothe.
What happened, I asked, keeping a level and cheerful tone. "Well, we were going along pretty good –– you know, we never even saw Little Shoals? It just wasn't even there," he paused to paddle and then continued, "So we were going and then we broke the mast. We never saw the limb."
I take a moment to process the moment: dark, flowing river, abrupt stop in a canoe that neither flipped nor swamped.
"The moon is amazing!" my favorite skipper added. Splash, splash of the paddle. Then, "The watch thing isn't really working. Airplane seat naps –– we'll try to camp later. I'll send a picture."
And then I tried to get back to sleep.
The SPOT tracker continued to disappoint overnight, so that I found myself doubting the late-night phone call.
As it turned out, the Miss Patsie continued downriver with only a short camping break. The ground was too hard and sandy for comfort, so the boys took Jarhead's wise dictum to heart: If you don't fall asleep, you're not tired enough.
Late the next morning, the SPOT was revived by a second new set of batteries...Just in time to document another long day of paddling.
Their 4 o'clock call (Circadian rhythm disruption?) sounded as if they were hitting the metaphorical wall.
TwoBeers is a never-say-die guy, but he said there might be tears today.
They were discouraged; they'd hoped to get to Branford for a hot meal.
They were worried about Moresailesed getting back in time for work (there's a flight reservation, about which I've maintained a strict need-not-to-know).
Headwinds––and it's still a <expletitive + intensifier> 100 miles more of this.
As the Chief and Paula Paddledancer say: get some food, get some sleep, and it will look better in the morning.
I told my favorite skipper my version of that same thing. Their location has not changed for nearly five hours. I bet they could sleep another 10, but I suspect they'll be paddling under the stars by midnight...
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