Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Wild Hog Canoe Race


This morning, prerace.

Junior and I set out this morning for the Wild Hog Canoe Race on the Waccasassa River. We raced in the "Parent/Child" division, a new division for the Wild Hog Race.

This race is pretty torturous, with tons of log portages, sharp chemically eroded limerock, and more curves than a Victoria Secrets model ... not that I would know anything about that of course, but I've heard talk ...

The weather was perfect, cool and sunny. We left the starting line at about 9:50 am I guess and finished about 3 hours later. I think the hardest part of the race is that first paddle stroke because your body knows that for the next 3 hours you will be doing that as hard as you can with no stops, except to portage quickly, and no resting.

There is no slacking in the USS Pure Florida during a race!

The last time Junior went with me on this trip, he was a chubbly wubbly sixth grader who was basically amiable ballast. These days he's about 6 feet of lean muscle so I was anxious to see how he would do.

As it turned out, he was an excellent bowman. He paddled hard, portaged quickly, and kept a steady pace. This race is a race against the clock and racers start off in twos with a little time gap between sets. For a long time at first we were alone, except for the mosquitoes feasting on Junior's bare back.

At one point, while paddling and watching him flail at the buzzers, I told him, "Dude, you should see your back, there's nickle sized welts, red with white centers, all over it. I wish I had my camera."

After a while, he fished his soaking wet T-shirt from the water sloshing around in the canoe bottom and put it back on.

The first half of the course is pretty twisty with many, many log portages. About 97% of these are covered with poison ivy. The water is very low right now so logs you once cruised over have become portages.

There is also no current, except over a rocky chute or submerged log. The current today was so negligible, that for all practical purposes, we were paddling a long twisty skinny lake. It's about as wide as a lane on a highway.

The second half of the course is pretty insanely twisty with logs and very sharp limerock eroded into razor blades by natural carbonic acid in the water.

A few kayaks passed us, but after a while we began passing people who had started before us, which was extremely gratifying.


At the end, the river suddenly turns placid and meek looking as you approach the finish line just west of the US-19 bridge. Here, you paddle like a crazy person trying to cut your time in this last moment. At the bridge, you must lift your canoe up and over the log, clamber over the log yourself, get back in your canoe, and paddle across the nearby finish line.

As Junior and I shoved the canoe up and over the log it took off for the finish line without us. Not good ... we have to be in it to finish, so I went after it in the waist deep river like a man in slow motion. I finally made a dive, caught the stern with my finger tips and we jumped in.

In our frantic exhausted state, we skipped all the coordinated movements that we had used on countless portages that day and promptly flipped the canoe.

So we made it to the finish line in a canoe filled with water, but we made it.

In fact, when we left the race finish site, we were in second place for the Parent/Child division. First place was only 9 minutes faster.
I don't know what the final results will be, but it was fun and for a good local charity ... so does it matter?
Well, yes, a little.


Here's four people who earned their, "I survived the Wild Hog Canoe Race" T-shirts and free lunch.
The two green shirt guys are James and Jordan, two of my ex students and part of the wonderful family that produced Corinne, Emma's best bud and college roommate. The white shirt guy is my bowman, Junior and the guy in the blue shirt is ... well you know.

It was a great grueling race and my body is saying, "Dude, you are gonna pay for this tomorrow".

Maybe I can talk it into a nap so it won't be so grouchy and sore tomorrow.



21 comments:

pablo said...

A most excellent adventure. You should try some Ozark streams sometime.

cedrorum said...

Congrats to the USS Pure Florida crew for doing such an outstanding job today. looks like a lot of fun.

Hurricane Teen said...

Whew, that sounds like a truly rough trip. That limestone can be a killer! I'm glad JR. escaped without needing a transfusion.

Wren said...

I have a feeling you've made it sound like more fun that it actually was at the time, but most great adventures are like that.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Great boating, Cracker. That's a good boy you got there.

freste2715 said...

Congrats Bud!
LARC should be extremely proud that you and Jr love the athleticism of this event and competed like fierce animals through this aquatic singletrack.
The Bay to Breakers (San Francisco) and the Marin Century seem pretty tame now.
With testosteronically driven appreciation for VS models and the nature of the Waccasassa River... it's certain I'll never come close to either one.
Congrats again. Enjoy tomorrow!!
:o)

robin andrea said...

That sounds like strenuous fun for a day. Great father-son adventure. So how do you feel? Are your shoulders sore?

kathy a. said...

sounds like a wonderful adventure!

those boys are HUGE. hope you and junior have plenty of tecnu for the poison ivy, and that junior survives the skeeter bites.

Floridacracker said...

Pablo,
Sounds good to me!

Cedrorum,
Oh it was ... in a painful sort of way :)

Wren,
Yes, when you finish them, the fun aspect sort of floods through you. Not as obvious during the event ...

Hoss,
I agree with you Hoss.
:)

Freste,
"Fierce Animals"
Cool!

Robin,
After a brief nap ... I think my trapezius's's's are sore, but everything else seems okay.

Kathy A,
And they are as nice as they are tall!
We seem to be recovering from our fun!

roger said...

thanks fc, for reminding me of times with my own long gone father. not that we paddled anywhere, but we did hike the sierras and fish the central california coastal streams streams together.

do my eyes deceive me? are you the smallest guy in that picture? a handsome group.

Floridacracker said...

roger,
glad those memories got triggered!
your vision is accurate. i told them i'd look like a shrimp if 5 foot ten me stood next to Jordan who is 6 foot 7 inches ... and yes, jr has me by an inch or so too!

Alan said...

Sounds like fun. You might have finished better if you weren't wearing such an ugly t-shirt, haha. ;-)

threecollie said...

Yay, Pure Florida...looks like fun!

Floridacracker said...

Alan,
Well, it was a competition and I felt wearing the shirt of a WINNING team might bring us good luck.
:)

3C,
T'was!
I'm not even that sore this morning!

dani813 said...

Wow!!!I'm just in awe that a body can do those things.Fierce animals LOL.Glad that you feel okay this morning.

Deb said...

That sounds like a blast! But I'm sore just thinking about it...

Rurality said...

Dang, I'm sore just reading about it! (You were standing in a hole, right? :)

tsiya said...

FC, you seem to be shrinking!

Floridacracker said...

Okay y'all,
I'm not standing next to giant people in any more pictures!

thingfish23 said...

Oh, it's on now.

I believe we do have one photo of you and I walking together, Fc, in which I sort of, well, you know...am taller.

It's been long overdue for a post anyways.

Roger beat me to it - that's some strong stock in that photo. Florida boys, represent!

Floridacracker said...

Thingfish,
Okay, that's the also the last time I loan you those stiletto heels.
What was I thinking?