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HomeNL-2012-05 Yellow Paddle

Campfire Tales
Paul Woodcock

For those few of you who have sat around the campfire listening to my stories, you may have heard some of them several times, but most of the club members have not, and I would like to share some of those stories with them.  I would also like to see other members contribute their favorite campfire stories here in the newsletter.

The Yellow Paddle

  Jack's Fork 
Jack’s Fork is a small, beautiful, little river in Missouri.  It feeds into the Current River and can only be paddled at times of high water.  Fortunately, I have been able to paddle it twice.  Whenever I plan a trip on the Current River (it is spring fed and can be paddled at any time of the year) I check to see if Jack’s Fork is an alternative.  Jack's Fork has high cliffs, beautiful gravel bars, camp sites and a number of class 1 and 2 rapids.  The first trip I took was in early spring and the first camp site was cold and rainy.  I left my wet boots outside the tent and when I got up the next morning the socks and boots were frozen solid. The next day it warmed up and the rest of the trip was beautiful weather.  The air was warm but the water was cold so any spill would be uncomfortable.

The river made a horseshoe and as I looked downstream I could see where the current would draw us around the sweeping bend that had a large rock right at the curve of the bend.  Because of all the rain the current was fairly strong and I wanted to stay on the inside of the current so we would miss the rock.  As I did a hard pry I head a loud crack and my paddle shaft broke just above the blade.  I shouted to Mary, my bow partner, “The boat is all yours!", and started digging franticly to get the spare paddle loose.  She did a series of draw  strokes and as we approached the rock I was still trying to get the paddle loose.  I saw that the bow would just clear the rock and I leaned into it, and the gunwales slammed hard against the rock.  We cleared the rock and stayed upright and I finally got the spare paddle loose.  It was Mary's extra straight shaft, and for the next few miles I complained excessively at how short it was. I usually paddle with a 62-inch paddle and it was just plain uncomfortable using that short paddle.  I could tell that everyone was getting tired of hearing me complaining. 

Paul, with the
yellow paddle
We came around another bend with me still bitching about the short paddle.  I saw a large tree down with the root ball facing us and about 6 feet up was a bright yellow paddle sticking out at the top of it.  We stopped and I climbed up on the log and retrieved the paddle.  It was 62-inches long.

The river taketh and the river giveth back.


The earth is my mother.
the sky is my father
the animals are my brothers
the canoe lets me get closer to them