After work.

It’s pouring as I leave work, drive to the store, get gas, load paddling gear. By the time I’m done Evan is almost ready, and we load the canoe together, the rain down to a drizzle now. It’s chilly and wet—the weather perhaps not ideal conditions for a paddle, but the creek is running high—perfect conditions for a paddle.

We drive down Rt. 26, music blaring from the speakers of the Subaru. We drop off the boat, drive to the take-out, and pull bikes from the back of the car. Fully-clothed in neoprene and dry tops, we hop on the bikes and begin the several-mile trip upstream to where we left the canoe.

Donning gear.
Donning gear.

Sun shines through the trees, offering us a little respite from the rain and cold. I lean my face toward it, basking, soaking up the warmth. It’s beautiful, the rays creating a glare on the wet pavement. Below us, the creek is roaring, swollen with muddy brown water.

The Shuttle.
The Shuttle.
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Sunlight.

We step over chunks of ice to get into the canoe, and begin what will be a quick trip today. The water is big—waves crash over the front of the boat, and it’s a constant battle to bail it out. We blast through holes, leaning back and forth to balance the boat, me in the bow launching into the air and then crashing back down, nearly flying out of the boat without thigh straps.

The Put-In.
The Put-In.
Big water & big ice.
Big water & big ice.

We are communicating well today in the tandem, mastering a simple yet effective system—Evan calling eddies, me calling lines. It feels good to work so well together as a team. We laugh and shout and whoop through the wave trains all the way to the take-out, where we load the boat and pick up our bikes on the way home.

We get off the water just in time, as the sky has clouded over considerably and the temperature has dropped noticeably. By the time we shower and finish dinner and a beer in town, it’s freezing outside and snow flurries fall as we drive home together.

It’s days like this that seem to be the most satisfying—the days of unexpected sunshine and impromptu trips to the river and companionship with those we love, all after a day of work.

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Photos by Evan Gross.

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