We set off with our friend Doug on a short swath of the Pemigewasset River in Plymouth, N.H., to somewhere near his condo complex, five miles or so downstream.
It was August, and the Pemi was low or so we thought. Before long we hit a bend in the river and a faster current. Shortly after that, we toppled over into the water. We laughed, even though its harder than it looks to right a capsized canoe.
The second capsizing proved more annoying when I whacked my head on something hard. The third and fourth times, well, things were getting downright scary. I had gulped enough river water to know that we were in over our heads.
I gave in to my worries about crashing into boulders in the river and suggested we call it quits. Since we hadnt gotten very far anyway, we could portage the canoe back to the car. John and Doug didnt argue. We made it only a short distance hauling the canoe: John had developed a terrible pain in his lower back. We walked along the highway, soaked and dejected, and came to a diner, where we had cups of tea and called a taxi to deliver us back to our car. Wed worry about the ditched canoe later.
The coup de grâce came that night, when John ended up in the hospital on a morphine drip with a case of kidney stones which Im told is more painful than childbirth.