F*king meow, as the cats say.
We knew the weather was going to be bad, but this was insane.
PSA is a Saturday of basic canoeing instruction on Folsom Reservoir, and a Sunday of training on the American River. it should be noted that the Reservoir and the river are fed by snowmelt from the Sierra Nevadas, It has been a very cool and rainy spring, and the water has not warmed up since it left the mountains.
We did the Staff Float on the American RIver Friday afternoon; the water was icy, the flow rate was 7000 cfs, San Juan Rapids, usually a rock beach with several scouting points and two or three good channels, was just a wall of haystacks (water smashing up over submerged rocks).
Keith decided to put all activities that required the students to swim, as late in the day as possible, so they could get dried off as soon as they could. Wise choice.
2AM the pitterpatter on the tent roof begins. 6 AM reveille, 8:30 we head for the beach.
The beach. Usually, even at 8:30, there are kids and parents and frisbees and PWCs all over the joint. Today, it's cold and grey and a 30MPH wind, and the place is deserted ... except for some poor couple setting up their big wedding party in the middle of a downpour. Those poor kids. Later in the day, there's a baptism. I don't know how many survived their icewater baptisms.
I slide into my new wetsuit, and, though i look like an innertube what swallowed a softball, I haz insulation. Then I notice that my paddling jacket is waterproof, yes, but has no hood, and my cap is already soaked through. For a bald man, this is not trivial, you lose head through your head FAST. Ah, well.
So the boats are set up and the students are in their gear, and I give my famous fifteen-minute Orientation lecture. "You notice that a canoe is pointed at both ends. This is a joke by the Native Americans, who figured the white people wouldn't be able to tell the bow from the stern. This is how you tell..." It went over OK. Neill Rucker, from CanoeWest, goes over basic paddle strokes, and we head for the boats.
We're not on the water ten minutes before people start capsizing. This has LONG DAY written all over it.
ABout 10:30, Ed the Quartermaster and I decide to bring the water heater to the beach and set up a hot cocoa dispensary. Which means going into town to get hot cocoa. So, about 11:15, we get back to the class, set up the water heater, and FLAME ON!
Fifteen minutes later the water isn't even tepid. The burner isn't putting out. The tank from troop stores is almost empty.
Drive back to camp, get the fuel bottle from the camp stove, set it up: it doesn't even ignite. We used up what little it had making breakfast.
Another trip into town to get full fuel bottles, and the troop quartermaster is going to catch hell for not taking care of the equipment. Back to the beach at 1PM withe two full bottles, to find the canoes are on the trailers and the trucks are loading: Keith has decided it is too risky to continue, we will go back to camp. CanoeWest heads for their hotel. Lunch? We ate already, thanks.
The students whip out their technologies and check the weather. Not only is the already dogsh*t weather going to get worse, Sunday will have thunderstorms. You must NOT go out of the water in thunderstorms, you can get electrocuted that way. Keith contacts the CanoeWest hotel, and arranges for a conference room for the afternoon. He calls us together and says, OK, its 2 PM. I'm cancelling tomorrow's float on the river. We're going to pack up camp, go to the hotel and do the lectures and presentations we usually do in the evening, and go home. It's 2, now, let's pack up by 3 and we can start the sessions at 3:30.
We are out of there by 2:30. Motivation is a great thing.
So we do the land sessions (I have lectures on reading the river, water rescues, and organizing transport shuttles). I am the last to leave at 7:30, and drive home through sunshowers and rainbows. God's sense of humor needs a kick in the ass. By 10 PM, I am at home and my feet are warm for the first time in 30 hours.
Keith, for recognizing when to pull the plug.
The students, for good spirits all through a weekend that was not what we advertised
Hilton Garden Inn, Folsom CA, for letting a bunch of tired, wet, dirty, smelly men take over their conference room on no notice.
A lot of surprised spouses and families, who got us back a day early.