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Strange Days

Early in the season I posted this after losing my boat on PDXkayaker:
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It started out like every other stupid thing I have done in the past 4
years...Here hold my beer watch this. Long story short wanted to get
some high water film on Eagle Creek at Punchbowl. Hiked the boat in +
or - 5 miles, and here is where things go terribly wrong, stashed the
boat under a dirt berm and some fallen logs planning on returning the
following morning with the crew for a descent. Long story short
someone either pushed the boat into the river (might not have survived
Metlako), hid the boat for an extrication later this season, or
hiked the bitch out 5 miles that night. More on this later.

Since childhood the outdoors has always captivated and invigorated me. It was not until moving away from Colorado and living in Boston that I understood the dramatic impact your surroundings could have. Girls, clubs, bars, even restaurants open after 9pm. Urban excitement in the city kept me entertained, but after a couple years I strayed further and further from the city whenever time presented itself. Multiple long commutes, usually in heavy traffic, to Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont persuaded me to move back to the mountains. Since then my taste for cities and traveling brought me as far as Vishakhapatnam in southern India. Twenty-seven countries can be found stamped in the pages of my passport. Currently residing in the Philippines and working on Traffic Support builds international business process outsourcing team. during the cold winter months. As with most things the desire has been satiated but it has awakened other ideas and fears. Upon returning to Colorado I decided to take up an esoteric water sport. A person navigates predominately using a large piece of molded plastic and a carbon fiber stick with blades. Traveling to and living in the most poverty stricken polluted cities in the world juxtaposed with descending some of the most pristine valleys and uninhabited gorges was bound to make me psychotic. I can’t describe the transition, but I am starting to see things for what they are. Recently covering my body with henna might describe the sadness and desperation the beauty and slime illuminated. It reads “Kalibutan Sa Ron” (Earth First) across the front of my chest, and then on my back is a large tree covering the earth with the words “Unya na nato patyon ang uban planeta” (Then we can destroy the other planets). Watch the documentary “An inconvenient Truth” and tell me we are living in harmony with our surroundings. Omnivorous and instinctually a predator I will only eat wild animals that die at my hands. I no longer will drive a car. Nothing is worse than the preaching of a reformed sinner, many areas in my life is still in direct competition with the health of the earth. Enough with the background and on to the stories:

Training Days – After 3 1/2 years in my boat it was evident that my personal fitness was the largest factor holding me back from becoming more proficient. Imposing strict regimens, including running at least a couple times a week, started to prepare me for a multi-day that we planned to undertake near the end of the summer. It started out like most other jogs, visualizing the creeks that our group was planning on running and meditating, but then things changed. Immediately a lost wallet turned up on the path in front of me, the first thought was ignore it you are running, but something got the better of me and I picked it up, returned home, rummaged through the contents, and called the owner who happened to have a biz card matching his license name. It had fallen from his pocket a short while before. He was thankful to get it back, after returning the wallet I proceeded running. Starting to really sweat a large friendly looking golden retriever was approaching me on the path. Tongue hanging out seeking a pat on the head. Zigging out of its way I heard a snarl. Surprised! feeling teeth on my ass. Spinning I assumed a fighter’s position and backed quickly away from the dog. Teeth bared, barking, the dog charged me from the front. Instinctually an opportunity arose, an opening it its advance. A chance roundhouse kick to the leaping dog spun it 180 degrees sprawling on its back, stunned. About the same time a fat lady called from her porch. Calmly I responded “Mam, your dog bit me and that is not ok.” In a sarcastic voice she uttered, “Bad dog.” My response was to put it succinctly “I will kill it next time it bites.” Cutting across the fields in time to watch two small children have bad crashes, thinking, “Oh it is a skate park they have pads on.” Slowing to a walk as a young kid rides up the path. Cresting…our eyes lock, precisely at this moment hands slip, his chest lands directly across the bars, his body does an endo to the ground. Stunned, his mother rode up. A woman offered to call for help on her phone. He had knocked the wind out of himself, but would recover quickly, nothing to do but return home.
Expedition – The day had arrived for departure. Gear, satellite phone, food, camping, medical supplies all tucked into a 96 lbs awkward turtle shell, held on to our backs with pool noodles, webbing, and cam straps. Refer to Adrenaline Driven, Gravity Fed for full a TR, as I am not going to rehash what has already been written.

I would like to coin a phrase “Turtleing – The act of falling down with a fully loaded boat strapped to your back. With the excess weight, the boat lands facing down, and you are left with your arms and legs extended towards the sky squirming around like a turtle.
* Names have been changed to protect the guilty*
Two months passed since my boat had disappeared in Oregon. Completely written it off. After the expedition two voicemails caught my attention. The first, from Mark, “I know who has your boat, it is a long story and you should give me a call, not good stuff,” second from Milo, “We have your boat locked up in our shed and you need to come get it ASAP!” I call the first cat back. He relates a story of teaching Jimmy a newbie how to roll, navigate rivers, and the codes of the water. Recounting. One night the two of them have a couple of beers, ask kayakers are apt to enjoy, and the newbie begins to tell the story of acquiring his Burn. “I was hiking up in the woods and this boat was just abandoned under a dirt enclave and some logs. Decided to hike it down that afternoon.” At this point Mark says to him, “No way! I think I know who that boat belongs to, you have to return it.” Mark had been reading PDX previous to moving up to the Northwest to familiarize himself with the boating community, my post happened to stick in his mind. Showing the post to Jimmy elicited a less than ideal reaction. At this point a code was explained to him. We boaters are a superstitious bunch, and the nature of our sport entails returning lost equipment. Immediately following this conversation Jimmy has an out of boat experience and loses his paddle. Less than two hours later his cell rings and the paddle is returned to him. Mark looks at him and says, “See, this is how our community works, you need to return that boat.” Jimmy has little intention of returning the boat. Mark decides to give him an ultimatum: either you return that boat, or we can no longer boat together. Jimmy’s response, “f*<k you! and f*<k him! I am keeping the boat.” At this point Mark calls me up and leaves the voicemail. Shortly thereafter Jimmy is hanging out with his roommates (also boaters) and one of them asks, “When are you going boating with Mark again?” Jimmy replies, “Probably never” and then relates what had transpired. The collective response is “No f*<king way.” They look up the post online, and then Milo says, “You need to return the boat.” Jimmy’s response, “Finders keepers losers weepers.” At this point they hide the boat in a locked storage shed and leave the 2nd voicemail on my phone. Upon returning to civilization Milo relates the whole story to me saying “I think we are going to have to evict him as no one wants to live with a thief. Come get your boat out of our shed.” Explaining the recent move to Colorado and thus will call a friend to come pick the boat up. Maybe at some point I might have threatened Jimmy’s well being, or the fact that each direction he turned dead ended. Jimmy calls, "I have your boat." Pretending to still be in Oregon saying, "I will come over right now to pick up the boat." He made lame excuses fabricating a fantastic story that did not jive with what Mark and Milo had related to me. I said, “If you are thinking about breaking into the shed to re-acquire my boat that is a foolish idea, just leave it alone and I will not come after you physically.” He admitted to as much and then the conversation was over. I then called Milo and warned him of Jimmy’s intentions.

After telling this story to a person in the crew, he said, “If everyone acted like Mark, Milo, and the kayaking community we would have a much better world. You need to post this story.” The world is small and our communities are even smaller. Each of us knows instinctually how to live in harmony with the earth, why do we get better and better at ignoring this instinct? Institutions, militarys, religions have been built to maintain the status quo. We allow lobbyists to influence our policy, trickling down to our schools, our rivers, our lives. Don't encourage relentless consumption. We are about to pay the true price for our goods. I hope that we can afford it.
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