Monday, June 6, 2011

Thump.... "Rock, Jay!!" Two Days On The River.

News flash:  Two almost old guys, Jay and John, prove the rule of threes theory.

You know the rule, s..t happen in threes.
(Click on any image to enlarge)

By 9am we had dropped my truck at Motts Run ramp and we were ready to launch into the Rapidan River at Ely's Ford for our two day fish and float. Day one was a 6 mile run to the confluence of the Rapidan and the Rappahannock were we would camp for the night.

I was a bit concerned that we packed to heavy, having never actually done an over night trip where I was carrying everything in the canoe. But comparing everyone else launching that morning with their 40 quart coolers full of beer, 8-man tents and lawn chairs, I knew we were in pretty good shape. (note the crew behind us in the photo below)

John struck first and boated the first fish of the trip. Being the good and well paid guide that I was, I wasn't disappointed.... until he caught his 4th and I wasn't even on the board yet.

And then at about the 2nd hour, the first of the rule of threes came into play.
But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. I forgot to tell you the last thing John said to me as we loaded the canoe. "Should we bring the extra paddle Jay?". "No, we won't need it. I've never broken a paddle before".

That's right, rule number one. Bring an extra paddle. I had just got finished pushing us off a rock while steering through a rapid, I took a heavy stroke and SNAP, one of John's beautiful, wooden, Canadian paddles broke in half. John tried to make me feel better by saying it was over 30 years old, BUT.

This is a view looking back through Todd's Ford Ledge, I would guess a class 2 rapid and the biggest we saw during the whole trip. By then I had smoothed off the broken handle of the paddle and John was doing his best to help me steer the front end of our loaded canoe.

And then the second rule of threes hit us. Sorry folks. No photos because it involved blood and fish hooks. From the front of the boat I hear,
"Oh, darn".
"You ok John?", I asked.
"I just hooked myself".
"How bad John"?
"Two fingers and I can't see the barbs. We may have to head for the emergency room Jay".
"That's a long paddle, John, with fish hooks in the fingers", I said.
So out goes the anchor and I climbed into about 3 feet of water to go up front and take a look.
Bottom line... it took about 20 minutes with two different pliers to get the hooks cut apart and extracted from John's thumb and middle finger. He was a real trooper, knew his tetanus shot was up to date and went right back to fishing.
(Click on any image to enlarge)

Later that afternoon, "Sorry John, my guiding fee is non-refundable". I had just landed a 12" small mouth bass, the big fish of the day. He caught more on Saturday, but my last one was bigger.

We had a great river-side campsite with two other groups. One was a Scout Troop from Nokesville, VA. I warned John he was in for a real treat, camping near 14 Boy Scouts. We lucked out. Saturday was their 2nd night out and after 2 days of paddling, the camp was quiet pretty early.

After dinner of freeze dried Mountain House Lasagna with sauce, John tried his luck from the bank.

(Click on any image to enlarge)

This photo is looking down river from our campsite through the "Rock Garden". Something we had to start with on Sunday morning. It involved getting out and pushing a couple of time but in general we felt pretty good since most of the canoes were walking through this section.

My Sunday started better than expected with the big fish of the trip, a 13"er. By then John had lost his two Rapala minnows and was struggling to find a menu the Rappahannock fish preferred. Mimicking John's success on Saturday with his Rapalas, I switched to a 1/8 oz. black, lead-head jig with a 3" Gulp silver and black minnow.

The Rappahannock has some amazing history tied with 18th century westward expansion. I think this photo shows the remains of Scott's guide lock at the upper end of what was a canal.
One of our pull off points to stretch our legs

We stopped for lunch about 90 minutes above our take out point at Mott's Run. It was a beautiful overcast, not to hot day.
The third rule of threes hit me as we sat on a log by the river and finished our Peanut & Jelly bagles.
"Oh, C..p John!".
"What's wrong Jay", John asks?
"My truck keys are sitting in the cup holder, in your van... back at Ely's Ford".
"Are you sure"?
"Positive", I groaned.
"I guess you can call Valerie and have her bring an extra set to Mott's", John says, smiling.
"Do I have to? I won't live that one down for a while"?

Yes, the rule of threes is alive and well on another Chamberlain adventure.
I am just very glad John was a willing partner, doesn't bleed very much and has a high threshold for pain.

William Penn summed it up pretty well in this quote:
“A true friend freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.”

I hope this is just the first of many more paddling adventure with my friend John.


Mags said...

Great story dad! I felt like I was really there. My middle finger and thumb were even hurting when you told the part about the fish hook. Thanks for sparing the pictures.

Travis said...

Despite the somehow always unavoidable rules of 3, it looks like you had a great time and great weather. I am a little jealous of two days on the river though. Thinking about ya'll on the river made me go try my luck Sunday afternoon. At the place we pulled out of the river on our fishing trip, I waded up stream a hundred yards and managed to snag a 12" rainbow. I was actually suprised as warm as the river is now, but none the less he tasted delicious. I also broke in the birthday knife on the fish when I got home. Very sharp, cuts like a dream. Thanks again.