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  The Houston Canoe Club
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P.O. Box 925516
Houston, Texas
77292-5516



The Houston Canoe Club 

is a Paddle America Club


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HomeNL-2013-11 Member Profile

Member Profile

I am kicking-off a new newsletter feature here which I help will become a regular monthly installment.  The purpose here will be to introduce various members of the club so that everyone can get to know them better.  The questions will be sent out to various people, their responses solicited, and the results posted in the monthly newsletter, one per month.  If you would like to contribute but didn't receive the questions, just ask John Rich for them, or copy from here and just send in your reply.  All responses are strictly voluntary; you don't have to answer a question you don't like, and you can add anything else you would like to say that wasn't asked.  Where the questions say "canoe", you are free to change it to "kayak" as appropriate.  Hopefully the number of responses will be sufficient to highlight a different HCC member each month.  And to get this idea started, I'll lead the way by providing my own profile for this month.  
 

 
John Rich
 

Birthplace? 
Parkersburg, West Virginia.  The family moved away from there when I was very young and I remember little of it.  I grew up in my formative years in Roanoke, Virginia.

Age? 
Beyond caring.

Marital status? 
Single again.

 
  John, sons, &
granddaughters
Family?
Two sons, three grandchildren, all living in Florida where I raised my sons.

Occupation? 
Most of my life I've worked as a mainframe computer geek, but after semi-retiring from that profession, I'm now dabbling in archeology.

What other hobbies do you have? 
Skydiving, marksmanship, hiking, camping, archeology, Indian rock art, history.

How did you get started canoeing? 
   
Louis Aulbach   Dana Enos  
I was on a series of hiking & camping road trips visiting various rock art sites in west Texas about 2003, and I kept running into two strangers named Dana Enos and Louis Aulbach in the same campgrounds.  The second time I noticed them, I stopped by for a friendly little chat.  The little chat turned into hours, and the next thing you know they were inviting me along on an upcoming 5-day canoe trip which they had planned on the Rio Grande River, through Boquillos Canyon in Big Bend National Park.  I read a couple of books from the library on canoeing, and learned about things like "painters" and the "J-stroke".  I bought a few things, rented a boat from an outfitter, showed up on the riverbank, and didn't have a clue how to pack my gear in the boat.  Dana and Louis helped me out, and I flailed along through the rapids.  I managed not to turn over, get pinned, or do anything else really stupid, but I struggled.  I fell in love with the scenery, the isolation and the adventure of it all.  And I've been doing it every since.  I can't thank these two gentlemen enough for their friendliness, for getting me started in canoeing, and for the many great adventures which have sprung from that.

How many years of paddling experience do you have? 
Except for a few flat-water paddling experiences with my family in state parks, I really got my serious start in 2003.  So I've been doing this for about 10 years now.  

What boats do you now own? 
Just one, an Old Town 15'8" Discovery tandem.  It's a good all-around boat for a variety of trips.  It's flexible in that I can paddle with a partner, or turn it around backwards and paddle solo. It's a little big for solo day trips, but just right for multi-day expedition trips. And it's tough - no matter how many sharp rocks I hit, the royalex hull doesn't break.
 
What is your favorite place to paddle? 
I would have to say the Pecos River in west Texas.  I love the week-long isolation without seeing other humans, the canyon scenery, which includes many fabulous rock art sites, the crystal clear water, the many rapids which provide challenge and entertainment, and the evening campfires with good friends. 

   
       Lews Canyon Falls
Pecos River, Texas
      

Do you prefer a canoe or a kayak? 
I like an open canoe for ease of entry and egress, and for gear carrying capacity.
 
Do you use a single blade or double blade paddle? 
Single blade, with a spare on standby. 
 
What do you like most about the sport? 
A canoe allows you to go places and see things that few other people get to experience.
 
What do you like least about the sport? 
Portaging.
 
What is an important safety tip?
The PFD is the single most important item of safety gear.  Of the 500 people who drown each year in America in boating accidents, 85% of them were NOT wearing a PFD.  
 
Why do you paddle?
For adventure, exercise, getting away from the rat-race, scenery and serenity.  I'm at peace with myself and the world when on the water. 
 
   
Boquillos Canyon,
Big Bend Natn'l Park,
Texas 
     Boundary Water
Canoe Area,
Minnesota
     Lake Powell,
Utah
 
If you could do a fantasy tandem paddle with anyone you wish, with whom would it be?
Gosh, tough question.  A week in the wilderness alone with any of numerous fine ladies, or perhaps a historical figure.  But I'd settle for just someone who follows instructions and doesn't make me work harder. 
 
What was your best moment ever in a canoe? 
There are so many of them, it's hard to choose just one.  I think it would be about my fourth trip on the Pecos River.  There is one rapid that is really tricky and ugly, a Class 3.5 to 4 at the particular water level on this trip, located at Painted Canyon which some people call "Hail Mary Rapid".  I had braved all the other rapids on the Pecos at that point, and this was the only one from which I had always backed away and lined around.  I had seen very expert paddlers turn over or get pinned running this stretch.  On that trip I decided I couldn't continue to avoid this one rapid - I needed to face up to it and try it head-on.  I spent much time sitting up on the rocky bluff plotting my line and moves to get safely through it.  Then I took took some deep breathes, donned my PFD, hopped in the boat and pushed off.  I managed to stay exactly on my chosen line, dodging rocks and zig-zagging left and right, slipping through the narrow funnel between the two house-sized boulders, and missed the rock in the middle of the tongue immediately below that with a couple of strong draw strokes.  Woohoo!  I had conquered it!  I would fear it no more.       
 
   
Waterfall Rapids,
Pecos River 
     Lewis Canyon Rapids,
Pecos River
      Lewis Canyon Rapids,
Pecos River
 
What was your worst moment ever?  
Watching a good paddling buddy overturn in a rapid in cold, swift water and getting swept downstream, with repeated failed attempts to get him to shore.  That gets the anxiety level way up!  He was eventually retrieved, and warmed up with a change into dry clothes.  Or maybe it would be the final day of a weeklong trip on the Rio Grande with a desert sandstorm and 40 mph headwinds - ugh!
 
Anything else you would like to say?
I hope I can keep canoeing for as long as I live.