“Leading the Way” By Chad Robert Parker

We started our 3 day canoe trip at Green River State Park. First we piled up 4 or 5 canoes with all manner of plastic enclosed camping gear we hoped to keep completely dry. Then we piled in some leaders and several boys, 2 by 2. When we pushed the heaviest canoe into the water it looked like those leaders were going to go straight to the bottom of the drink. Lucky for them it leveled off just before waves could lap over the sides.

I still wondered how they were going to manage, at their nearly submerged depth, as we were just barely getting started. We launched a few more boats and then we shifted some gear. Everyone was riding almost equally now out of the water.

The Green River was up that day and the sky overcast. Waves were strong around each bend. The canyon was picturesque with shadows cast on it, but we couldn’t take our eyes off of what we were doing.

A couple boys got up ahead. I tried to get in sync with the boy in front of my canoe as we steered closer to the other boys. We shouted to them to wait up. The other canoes were still far behind. They pulled to the side and began clinging to a tree branch in calm waters along a bank, but the brush was too thick to reach the actual bank. Wind was pushing us into the same shore, but we couldn’t find a better place to dock. We grabbed a nearby limb to hold us close in behind them.

Eventually the current started tugging us mainstream, our limb snapped, and we were going back out into the main waters. We grabbed the other boat and pulled the two together. Then the current started to spin both boats around, despite our best efforts to paddle up current and back toward the bank. Soon I noticed I was tipping their boat and letting water in. We had to let go and both boats were out to sea so-to-speak once again. Embarrassingly, I, a leader, came the closest to capsizing anyone.