I realize those who truly know my athletic prowess may be thinking, “Really Katie, Texas Water Safari…really.”
I’ve always been friends with people who are naturally athletic. It’s really quite annoying. I try to act the part, but I would say the only activities that came natural to me are your common sports like basketball and softball. Come to think of it, I started practicing those before I can remember any embarrassing stories, so I’m sure they didn’t either. I do eventually I pick up on things, but that usually occurs as a result of doing something really stupid and then realizing, well that didn’t work.
My first swim in the New River when I was training to be a guide actually happened on the shredder with Phil. We were coming to the end of one of the class V rapids–Double Z to those who are familiar–when Phil realized the water level was higher than he’d thought. Just as we were coming up on a wave that was to end our dry day, he said, “Hold on.”
To any of you jerks I mentioned earlier whose natural instinct would be to brace yourself, high-side, or whatever the hell else you should do when you hear that, don’t judge.
Instead, I did a very typical Katie move, dropped my paddle and wrapped my arms around Phil. Together as one, we flipped the shredder into the New River. It was beautiful really.
I know not to do that anymore.
Other examples abound such as being a chubby little fifth grader trying to mimic my friend’s gazelle-like leap over a small wooden fence in an attempt to impress the high school boys baseball team, only to catch my thigh mid-leap and land flat on my back. I did catch their attention as they came over laughing while I lay embarrassed in the grass.
As awkward as I can be on land, my natural habitat, I’ve gotten myself in even more ridiculous situations on the water that test the boundaries of common sense. One such episode includes catching my kayak paddle on a low bridge and smacking myself in the face with it before being tossed in.
Where is this going?
Last weekend, Phil and I took our beast canoe off Town Lake and down to the San Marcos River. We were warned not to attempt Westerfield Crossing to the 1979 bridge (the most technical section of the Texas Water Safari) until we were a little more skilled in our canoe paddling, but Casey with Live Love Paddle had a trip of kayakers he was taking down and asked if we’d like to join, so we went for it.
Phil and I have done this section many times in kayaks (of course it’s also where the head smashing story took place), and actually took a few commercial trips for Casey over the years. We weren’t sure how we’d fare in the canoe, but what was the worst that could happen…I guess besides breaking Casey’s boat, we didn’t really think that one through.
We started out pretty proud of ourselves and our teamwork, getting the talking down and avoiding rocks like champs. Then we came to the first rapid, Old Mill. It’s not a difficult rapid really. Maybe class II, but it was the first time in Phil and my boating history, I was in the driver seat.
I’d love nothing more than to insert an heroic story here about how the stories of my past were just that, and this new Katie rose to the occasion and steered us seamlessly through the rocks, proving canoeing was the one thing I should have been doing my entire life.
But it didn’t happen that way.
Instead I froze and watched as Phil lined us up straight for a tree lying across the river. He actually had us lined up great on it with our nose set to brush straight by the end of the tree and have the current take us right where we needed to be.
Of course this was the case if the boat was about 2 feet shorter than it actually was, which was as far as Phil could see without me blocking the view.
As we neared the tree I knew the nose was going to hit, but I didn’t say anything. I just sat there silent ready to take what fate would come of us hitting this tree.
Then we hit it.
We dislodged a tree.
Somehow, we managed to stay upright and make it the rest of the way through rapid. We made it to the bottom with enough time to watch some of Casey’s customers new to the phenomenon of balance swim themselves several times on the way down.
Of course as you’ve just read, I am not really in the position to judge. Contrary to the man who I watched swim himself three times in one rapid and end up at one point on his knees backward in the kayak however, one fit of stupidity is usually enough for me. Similar to my bear-hugging fiasco on the New River, I can now say placing all the responsibility of driving on Phil, well that didn’t work.
Have any embarrassing river stories? Share them below…we promise not to judge.