Another death. And more that I remember. J-rig flipped in the Grand Canyon.
The water, the raging river or the tiny stream in the backyard, the pond, the tiny lake, the Great Lake, they have all had the same lesson. When people talk of wilderness tripping, it is some far away place, BUT it is not far away. Once you are 10 feet from shore, a single boat length out, I water deeper than what you waded into to step into your wet-foot canoe, or kayak, you are now in the wilderness. You are in the wilderness. That stream in the backyard has been there for 200 years? 1,000 years? And the surface, the current, the wind are no different now, no less dangerous now than they have ever been.
Worse, much worse, wind, waves, water do not normally kill people, schedules do.
It is Saturday, and my day to paddle and come hell or high water, I am gonna paddle. I must be back to work on Monday promptly at 8AM. I have a plane to catch, will we be back in time? All of this is so very wrong.
DO NOT PUSH OFF IF THE WIND OR WATER IS NOT RIGHT. There is no schedule that is worth your life.
That applies to professional rafts in the Grand Canyon, a kayak in the backyard, a sailboat on the Great Lakes. Once you are off shore, you are in the wilderness, every bit, every tiny bit, as dangerous as it was last week or a thousand years ago.
ALWAYS pack for a layover day. And take the layover day, bring a book, the extra food, or be a bit hungry. Hungry is good, it means you are alive.
I slugged it out in Blacks Canyon 2 weeks ago, wind on the nose, great effort to make good 1 mph, steep wall canyon, no way to beach or climb out, but I only went as far as the first beach, tiny, facing the wind. I had to completely unload the canoe and drag it above the waves. The propane stove could not heat water in 40 mph winds. A small stick fire cooked dinner. Rocks were needed in the tent to keep it. But, I kept my head, I had packed several books, had extra food. My safety people had been told in advance the trip would be ‘something’ between 6 and 10 days. A potentially scary day played out as a pleasant adventure, sitting safely ashore and eating bad food (Oh please, don’t make me ever open another Clif bar.) and reading lurid novels.
With the wind pouring across the water, sand blown, waves pounding, and a wonderful Louis L’Amour western, and spam and a Clif bar. And alive. Schedules kill. Make your next schedule with a layover, or two, or three days in your plans. you will live longer.