Maverick Lynes, Staff Writer
Have you ever had a moment in time where, as that moment was happening, you consciously knew you would remember it for the rest of your life? I am going to tell a story that I knew in the very moment it was all unfolding, I would remember it forever, for the best and the worst reasons.
When I was 17 years old I had a traumatically comical experience that I genuinely love to look back on. One weekend, I was out at my friend’s cabin that abuts a lake. Now, this lake is nice but it’s the type of lake where you jump in and feel as though the weeds are about to latch onto you and drag you down below the surface.
Here we are. Three teenage boys, a cabin to ourselves, and so naturally we decide to take a canoe out and explore the lake. When I say explore, I mean we are hoping to find the creature of the black lagoon or at the very least, Shrek’s swamp.
So we load up our canoe. The canoe’s exterior color matches the algae on the lake we are about to voyage onto. We have everything we could possibly need, three paddles, three life jackets, two bags of chips and one phone. I know what you are thinking, “why are you bringing your phone in the canoe?” Don’t worry, we put it in a ziplock bag!
Now that we have all of the essentials, we begin our quest. The first part of our trip goes well. We are taking in the fresh air and all that the scenery has to offer. It’s a beautiful day, one where a cloud covers the sun so rarely, that you are thankful when it does happen to provide a moment of shade. Green surrounds us, with small cabins all around the edge of the lake, some out in the open and others being guarded by trees.
We begin to get further into uncharted territories. No longer surrounded by calm waters. We are now enclosed by less water and more cattail. However, we had a mission. So we kept going, despite all signs telling us to go back.
At this point we are now recreationally canoeing through a marsh land, which is not ideal. We stay determined and end up at a narrow stream with a current. This is perfect because after battling our way through the marsh land we needed a break.
We continue along the stream and come to a point where the current is starting to get stronger and we realize we are in for something up ahead. Then we spot it–a waterfall. I use the term waterfall extremely loosely. It was basically a two foot drop with water running over it. For amateur canoe enthusiasts such as ourselves, this was gnarly.
We are fast approaching this drop and we are mental preparing for the ride of a lifetime. We go over the “waterfall” and we stick the landing, but before we know it we are about to be struck by a fallen branch. In order to avoid the branch, all three of us lean to the left, flipping our boat and falling into the stream. Overcome by shock we don’t know what to react to first, the boat that is currently 100 feet downstream, the chips that are no longer a suitable snack or my friend’s phone that is not in our immediate sight.
It doesn’t take us long to find our friend’s phone, protected by the ziplock bag there was visually no damage to the phone. We make our way to our flipped canoe, which is caught on a collapsed tree, walking along the side of the stream, doing our best to not fall in for a second time. We arrive at the canoe and gather our thoughts. At this point there is only one way to go. We have to continue with the stream.
We flip our boat to its proper position and follow the stream. As the current gets weaker, we realize we are in for another marshland experience. As we make our way through the cattail and emerging weeds, we come to what is better described as a swamp.
At this point we are looking for an exit or a sign from the universe, whatever helps us get back to the cabin faster. As we trek through the swamp, we are no longer in the canoe, the current terrain does not allow for it. Lifting the boat over logs and grass patches all three of us are clearly not impressed.
In the distance we spot a road. It is the one positive emotion we have felt in a while. We battle our way through the swamp getting closer to the road. We successfully escape the swamp alive. We get the canoe to the side of the road and we start walking.
We have an idea of which direction to go but for the most part, we have no idea where we are. It is the three of us, walking alongside of the road, each of us with our life jackets on and paddles in our hands.
We come across a common point that gives us clarity, we realize we are far from the cabin. We are three teenagers with a long walk, so we make the executive decision to stick our thumbs out in hopes to be picked up by a kind stranger.
Shockingly, a man picks us up. I awkwardly get into the front seat. The man has a cigarette in hand and the smell in the car was not my preference, but at this point beggars can’t be choosers. To this day I do not know what kind of person picks up hitchhikers with boat paddles.
Now we arrive back at the cabin, but the day is not done. The canoe still has to be retrieved. We get in my friends truck and go to where we left it. The canoe was too long to make this an easy task. We try to fit it in length-wise hoping there is enough truck bed to support it. Nope not a chance. So we put the canoe on the back of the truck as if we have a wide load…it was the only logistical option. Also without anything to hold the boat down my friend has to sit in the back of the truck and be our anchor, ensuring the canoe doesn’t go anywhere.
Here we are, in a Nissan Titan with a wide load canoe being secured by a 17 year old, driving down a highway. Everything is going fine and then we come across a narrow bridge, with another car coming the opposite direction. We pull off to the side to let this car go by, oddly enough it does the same thing. We start to cross the bridge when the canoe hits a sign that is off to the side and the canoe whips out of my friend’s hands, off the truck and crashes onto the road. Parts of the boat break off, scattering across the road. We get out, too tired to even be embarrassed, and clean up the mess with the help of the people in the car who witnessed the crash. We put the canoe back in the same place it was before and drive back to the cabin, cautiously.
After what was one of the longest days I can remember, we are back in the cabin. Sun burnt, hungry, exhausted and amused. We sit in the air conditioned cabin, replenished and begin to laugh at the series of events that just transpired. It was the best, worst day of my life and that is why I will always remember it.