Disclaimer: This will be a long post as it was a particularly adventurous weekend. I would also like to point out that it will sound like I’m whining. I am not. I had a fabulous time with fabulous people, even if a series of misadventures occured. And, honestly, I can’t wait to do it again. 🙂 Enjoy!
This weekend I went on a 2-day, 25 mile canoe and camping trip with my friends Mike, Rick, Susan, James, Trystan, and Catherine. I have not been canoeing or camping in 8 years. Just as an FYI.
Friday night we spent at Mike’s house in Winchester, VA because it was closer to where we were putting in. Problem was that no one had seen each other in a while and we didn’t get there til like 9 or 10 at night. So that’s when everyone started drinking. I went slow and ended up having a beer and a small rum and coke (which is important cause most everyone else had at least twice that amount, plus shots) during the 2 games of kings we played. Literally we didn’t go to bed til 2:30 or so. I would have gone to bed earlier but my bed was a couch that you could see from the dining room table where we were playing so it would have been pointless.
We go to bed at 2:30 and get up at 7:30. I am almost dead especially since the only coffee they have is half-caf. For shame. We get up, get packed, and get on the road. We stop at Target to get last minute supplies (where we lost Mike and James for a good 20 minutes) and McDonalds to get breakfast (where they almost lost us when the drive through was slow with our order) (side note: when did McDs start putting nutritional information on their sandwich wrappers. Yay for full disclosure but I really didn’t need to know the fat content of my sausage and egg McMuffin thank you very much) before we get to the river.
We put in around 10:30 or so and get going. The river is flat and I’m a little slow on picking up the whole how to paddle correctly thing but it’s all good. We’re chatting and playing games and had lunch under very loud power lines. James has a GPS for us to know how long it is to the campsite and how far we’ve gone. We notice a problem when we realize that the GPS is measuring distance “as the crow flies” rather than “how the river goes,” not necessarily the same thing.
We started off thinking we’d get to the campsite at 5:30, 6. No dice there, especially once we hit the “rapids,” or as I like to call them “fields of broken dreams.” Literally it takes us 20-30 minutes to go 0.25 of a mile or less. We get stuck, we have to get out move the canoe or paddle and “hump” to get the canoe to move forward. There’s one hellish patch that resembled a maze you cannot get out of without crossing the lines. We ended up pulling out about a mile ahead of where we were supposed to at 7, 7:30.
We cook, we chat, we sing, we eat s’mores, 3 of us go to bed. Mike, Trystan, James, and Catherine stayed up and drinkin til I don’t know when. Luckily, I was exhausted enough that I just PTFO‘d, even on the hard ground.
The next morning, those 4 people were seriously hungover. Let me tell you, not the best way to start a trip. We get back in the canoes late, around 10, and get going. We realize we are short on water and have nothing to eat (after breakfast) but snack foods. But that’s ok, we naively think, because we only have a few miles more to go and it should be flat water right? Wrong. This last part of the trip is ALL rocks. Mike and I walked our boat more than we paddled. We get through one particularly bad set and get to where James, Susan and Rick are waiting. Literally, they got through it 30 minutes before we did and we were still waiting for Trystan and Catherine.
James had used his time wisely and had befriended the people at the beach where they were waiting for us to the point where they offered to take him to his car at the get out point, which was still 7 miles away. It would have been nice to know this before Rick and Susan told Mike and I to continue on and they’d catch up cause then we had to paddle back upstream.
After we got back to the beach and were joined by Trystan and Catherine, Rick hiked out with James to see where we needed to get the gear to and came back with a stricken look on his face. Turns out the pick up point was only 0.25 miles away, but was literally an almost vertical, muddy, windy path strewn with roots. I’ve long lost my shoes since they were flip flops and not the best for having good footing in a moving river. I put them on and take them off very quickly after I almost fall and break my neck (not literally) hiking the path the first time. Oh and did I mention that I sliced the bottom of my toe open the night before? Yeeeah. Good plan.
So we’re hiking all our stuff, the 8-10 person tent, the paddles, the coolers, the box of cooking and camping general gear (including cast iron skillets, a hammer, and a lantern), and 4 canoes up this hill. Without James (which is important because that was one less person to help carry stuff out).
James gets back an hour later with his truck and the canoe trailer and we’re all dead and dehydrated cause we ran out of water. What James had failed to mention is that he had not cleaned out his car which he is practically living out of. Soooo we (being 3 girls since James had gone to get one of the remaining 2 canoes) unloaded 3-4 tubs of stuff and his tandem bike out of his car, loaded 2 canoes onto the trailer, and loaded his stuff into the canoes. The boys get back along with Trystan and we proceed to load the canoes onto the trailer and load the rest of the stuff into the canoes.
We eventually get back to the put in point and have to do it all again: unload all the canoes into James and Ricks trucks and flip the canoes over so they’re more aerodynamic. At which point, we collapse into the back seat of Rick’s truck, find our way to the nearest WaWa (my first trip and, despite the initial disappointment of not have 24-hour a day breakfast, was astounded by how good my sandwich was), and make our way back to Alexandria.
I didn’t get back to my apartment til 8 that night. Despite all of this, I felt fabulous. It’s been a long time since I’d been camping and I had forgotten how much fun it was. Good times.