I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me. —Hunter S. Thompson
Slowly, the waters rise. Inconspicuous at first, then gradually more apparent: the current speeds up and color seeps in, swallowing boulders along the shore. Soon the swell gains momentum and rapids appear: breaking whitecaps, swirling surges, crashing pour-overs. That’s when the call is made, the long-awaited message delivered: “Rocky Creek is ready.”
The next day is spent reconnoitering: riding along the roads, clambering down the bank, peering around bends. Stopping at bridges to assess and consider. A mental map is made, marking fallen logs, fences, portages. But the stream can’t be completely scouted—much of it runs through back yards, pastures, and other private ground. These sections must be run blind.
And that, of course, is what makes it so alluring: the unknown. The sense of adventure. The hazards lurking around every corner. The necessity of balance, alertness, and quick reactions. Branches to the face, bridge beams to the skull, desperate lunges for shore after getting pulled into a roiling sweeper—in short, riding a paddleboard down a swollen stream in May is stupid and dangerous, and drowning is an ever-present peril. We can’t advocate this kind of lunacy to anyone, but it works for us.