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The Thursday P.Net contingent set the tone for the weekend by arriving 5 paddlers strong and bringing 11 boats. This bolus of boats elicited continuing comment from other campers, along the lines of "How come you all got so many canoes?". The only reasonable response was to point out that we also seemed to have 11 bottles of single malt, brandy and bourbon. This response not only satisfied the question, but may have caused the other folks camped nearby to give us a wide berth.
After a small group exploratory paddle up lake (Dave, WesD, NT, Mike) we returned to camp to explore the wonderful world of beverages. Hunkered down beneath the VistaWing (thanks Wes) we commenced to resolve the problems of P.netters not present, and all of the world's other vexing problems to boot. Thank goodness the five paddlers present represented the true intelligencia of P.net and harbor no unresolved issues or personal peccadilloes of their own?
Unfortunately, the following morning we could recall little of the previous night's discussion, so if you seek answers to life's perplexing puzzles you'll have to show up for the first-nighters Raystown roundtable next year. Bring a tape recorder. And more bourbon.
Friday saw a continuing stream of arrivals, most toting more boats than paddlers, leading to a day of at-your-pleasure test paddling. I believe Dave wins the award for having eventually paddled every boat present. The chance to paddled twenty-some boats seemed to bring out the natural test paddler in Dave and I can't wait to enlist his assistance in reviewing a couple of beauties next spring. The array of boats drawn up along the shoreline was truly impressive, and hardly a rec. boat amongst them.
Friday night's festivities were similar to the previous evening's, although we finally put up enough tarp space to provide sufficient cover, with the immediate effect of stopping the rain, allowing us to undertake the Herculean effort of burning all the wood brought by NT. If we had had another day or two we might have got through the entire pile; as it was half of us never even bothered to unload the wood from out vehicles.
By Saturday our entire contingent of 22 paddlers, 27 boats and 3 dogs had accumulated, the weather had broken, and a joyous day of unorganized paddling was underway. While there had been discussion of making a downriver trip, NT had volunteered to scout out river levels and conditions - shallow and bony and heck, lets just all hang here and paddle a bunch of boats. I was most appreciative of the "disorganized" aspect of the gathering's paddling aspect, with the freedom to paddle whatever appealed, go wherever one pleased, with anyone who was ready and interested. Or not; the highlight of Saturday's paddling for me was the opportunity to head out on a long solo paddle, exploring the shoreline and sheltered coves and enjoying the peace of the day.
Arriving back at camp Paddler01 continued his efforts to drown me by trying to get me into one of his Wenonah racing hulls, relying on the old standby "Oh, it has good secondary stability". Yeah, right, that's like hearing "She has a great personality". If I needed any further convincing seeing him fall overboard while attempting to get into one of those skinnyman hulls was proof enough for me.
Saturday evening's post-potluck campfire circle saw small-world connections made (my paddling pal Dave M.'s wood stripper was once Topher's boat), novel parenting techniques demonstrated (if your child breaks a Cyalum just throw the kid into the lake) and doggy camping preferences made known (Ruthie prefers trailers to tents).
An animated discussion followed the suggestion that we strip down for a "Men of P.net Calendar", but that project fizzled when we realized we had only an insufficient gallon of olive oil to cover the expanse of volunteer flesh. (Note to self - DO NOT bring more olive oil next trip). A certain New Hampshire paddler provided much mirth and merriment, "muadahing" the letter "ahh" with abandon and punctuating Pyker's story of prison masturbation with a trick involving Guinness foam that may have turned me off of stout forever after.
Sunday morning the distance travelers hit the road in good time while a few folks lingered to paddle a bit more. Perhaps I should have left earlier, or departed later, as my timing put me squarely behind a Model A road rally, headed down southbound Rte 26 at a stately 25mph.
Touring Kayak Paddles
YakCatcher Rod Holder