The Aqua Blaze That Wasn’t

Made it to waynesboro by hiking 21 miles in 8 hours. I got to Rockfish Gap at 3pm on the dot. Right when I said I would meet the wonderful Lynn, who with her husband George, took me in for a few days. Six degree this separation: Lynn and George are the in-laws to my friend’s brother. They were amazing trail angels and I cannot thank them enough.

So amazing in fact, they let Steps and I borrow their canoe to aqua blaze through the Shenandoah’s. Aqua blazing is taking the South River instead of hiking. Why do this? Well, I was excited about being in the water for a few days, a change of pace, a new adventure, not having to carry my food, giving my pack that is breaking a rest, trying out my new tent from my Sponsor Wiggy’s, making up lost time….so many reasons.

Things started off great, I had bought heavy duty contractor trash bags. Nothing was getting through those suckers!!! There was beer, good food, sunscreen had been applied and me with my years of experience sat in the back and was ready to lead.

Well, having not used your arms in this extent for months at a time, can really be a challenge. Also, trying to teach Steps how to canoe on the fly wasn’t probably the best idea, canoeing is hard to learn in an hour. Despite this, things were going great. Until we hit our first low spot on the river. We had to walk the canoe on some very low water. The river isn’t the cleanest ever, either. There were tires, lawn chairs and lots of other assorted trash….it was the dumping ground of Virginia, or at least, that’s what it looked like.

We went pretty quickly through the first 10 miles. Then, we hit a monster rapid. Class 2 for sure. In an attempt to avoid one rock we nailed into another huge one and the canoe tipped over. Luckily, we could stand up because the water was so low, However the boat was so full we couldn’t get back in and the current was VERY strong. We managed to tip it again and watched as some of our belongings floated down river. Steps had nailed her foot pretty hard and my shin was on fire from scraping on some rocks.

Getting the canoe to the shore took a great deal of strength and effort. We assessed the damage as quickly as possible and then Steps realized she lost her debit card…it was in a ziplock bag. Among the lost items was also our hiking shoes….my right one and her left one.

We threw everything back into the canoe and began our search for our missing items. We passed a few people and asked if they saw our items. Their response? Yeah, I saw some trash floating by. Yes, people, trash. That’s our stuff. One man informed us he drank one of our water bottles because it was unopened. So thoughtful!

Thank goodness the first thing we did find was Steps’ debit card. We never found our shoes….but after we made it to Elkton, we called it. That was enough adventure for one day. The full assessment? Trash bags don’t keep packs dry, as a matter of fact, rain does less damage on the trail to one’s pack and we are way better on or feet. Back to the trail!!!

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