Thought I'd share this little tale of a kind of a river rescue we did last night. Four of us did the 10 mile stretch on the local river, a nice and calm run. At mile five it was now dark but the moon had breached the treeline and was lighting everything up as it was so full! I love it when it gets like this! We came across a group of folks who had put in above us so had already done 10 miles but were floating those inflatable chairs and not canoes or kayaks! It was getting a tad chilly and they were all soaked and cold by now and couldn't figure out where the next takeout was. It was just about in reach but they didn't know. They did ask how far it was to where their cars were and when I said another five miles you could hear them all groan, swear and one woman starting crying!
So, we lead them to the takeout but then they said there was a father with 3 kids downriver who had split from the group for some odd reason! About a half mile down river we found them. Dad was in a shitty little kayak towing two rafts behind him with his 5, 7 and 10 year old sons and boy oh boy were they ever cold, scared and couldn't get in touch with anyone. The youngest, David, was shivering so hard and crying like crazy as he was so out of his element! We pulled in and let Dad know his group was pulling off but there was no way he was going to paddle that mess back upstream. We told him that just downstream was a big sandbar with a farm road that lead back to the main road and we would lead them there but we would have to paddle down about another 1/4 of a mile to get to it. In the meantime I found a long sleeve shirt I had packed as an extra just in case and gave it to the little guy which seemed to help him some. I told the kids that I would hang right with them for the paddle to the beach and that seemed to help them get a little bit calmer. I never left their sides and just kept talking to them as we paddled. Scott paddled up front with Dad and just kept talking to him, not sure what they talked about but it went well.
We got to the sandbar and started leading them to the road and my buddy Scott says to me that we should lead them all the way out to the road which was about a mile and a half walk, although Scott says a half mile. Dad didn't have a flashlight, we did and we walked. This is through a massive corn field and it was like walking through tunnel. The 7 year old was having a hell of a time keeping up so I ended up piggy backing him for a long way but ya know I sure wished I had worn my shoes! ;-( The walking was good as the kids started warming up and the tears and chills stopped. Since I was in the back of the pack I didn't hear what was going on but apparently Dad got a hold of his wife and she was coming to get them as they were still five miles away from their car down river. I think this might have been around ten p.m.
Scott and I just couldn't see leaving these kids and Dad who was clueless to their own devices so we stayed in for the long haul. On our walk back to the boats after leaving them on the road we each just kept chuckling and slapping each other on the backs cause ya know as Scott said to me, "We did a good thing!"
We still had another 5 miles to the takeout but we sure took our time getting there. The night was beautiful, the moon was shining so bright and I think we each felt pretty darn good! So all in all it was a great evening on the river! Didn't get back home until almost one in the morning and I knew my feet would be a mess for days for going barefoot but it was ok with me! Some nights the river just treats you kindly and let's you pay back a little!