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  • "You ready?"

    Thumbs up.

    I seal-launch off the rock outcropping. Lead forward in my kayak. A quick 4 foot drop. Brace for impact. The bow buries into the water. I feel the splash but keep it stable. A quick stab of my paddle and I lean into the current.

    They call this run 'Fish to Bobs'. Put in at Fish Creek, and take out at Bob's Hole between mile marker 36 and 37. It is also known as the Carnage Run. In the summer all the fair-weather kayakers get thrashed and swim, even at low flows.

    Today the water level is high. High, moving fast, and almost freezing. Patrick is close behind me. No one else is around.

    We move downstream through the choppy waves. The water is heavy in the cold, thickening against the shore. A dry suit is a necessity. On either bank snow clumps on the mossy boulders and frosts the treeline.
  • "Here we go!"

    We charge into the wave train. The river opens its mouth and I am alone, blind in the white out. Water churns all around me. I fight for balance in the dragon's belly, swallowed by the river. I emerge at the crest of a wave, off balance. Too late, I feel the plastic hull beneath me slip sideways. The water is glassy green beneath me, sucked down into another hole.

    I tuck too late and I'm upside down. The water sucks and twists and pounds.

    Fear.

    No time for that. Hold on to my paddle. Twist my torso against the side of the hull. My hands reach up out of the water for a second and I corkscrew, paddle outstretched on the surface of the water like an outrigger. There is a suction pop as my boat releases from the upside down position. It flops over limply. Combat roll!

    "Yeah, buddy!"

    I'm backward, spit out of the bottom of the wave train.
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