Prairie State Canoeists
A Northeast Illinois Canoe and Kayak Club
The Cossatot River in Arkansas is a premier whitewater playground. The name is an Indian term meaning broken head or ‘scull crusher’—you get the idea. However, this river includes some quiet, scenic sections, and our club gathered on a beautiful sunny Sunday for a short, leisurely paddle.
At the time I was paddling an Old Town Tripper, a real river hawg--17 feet long, 37 inches wide, and 17 inches deep at the center, indestructible Royalex, 85 pounds--but obliging and stable for challenging waters and very safe on a leisurely paddle. This day I did not have a paddling partner, so I was assigned an elderly lady who would be, essentially, a passenger in the bow seat. So far, so good.
As a group, my fellow paddlers handled most rapids and mild drops with aplomb. Although I had not paddled this section before, I trusted their judgement. Now, we are advised that when we spot a perfectly straight horizontal line downstream with only the tops of trees showing beyond, this usually means a dam. There it was, a dam with a drop. I watched a dozen boats go over the lip and emerge happily beyond. Good enough.
The lady in the bow seat, however, did not realize any of this. As we pitched over the edge of the dam, the bow, and the lady, were suspended in mid-air with no visible means of support. Alarming enough for the poor girl, but then the bow dropped (isn’t there a nursery rhyme?). The drop was only three feet. Fun for me, no sweat, but that woman, whose name I forget, was not seen at a club event again.