Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

The river wild

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If anyone asks, we hit category 5 rapids.

The truth is much less impressive. And slightly embarrassing.

Sugar Creek at Turkey Run State Park.

The tempest that was Sugar Creek. It’s not even a good name. I can’t tell anyone I almost died on Sugar Creek. It’s way too benign.

A couple of friends and I decided that Sunday would be the perfect day to try out a canoe/kayak trip up at Turkey Run State Park. We were canoeing on a lazy creek. The plan was to go 10 miles, but we managed to capsize at about the 8.5 mile mark. Yeah. Flipped the canoe right over. All the times that I’ve been in a canoe, I’ve never managed to capsize the vessel. And, truthfully, there were no “rapids” to speak of. Oy.

I was in the rear of the canoe because I wanted plenty of room to stretch my leg; usually, I’m in the front steering. We had actually been doing quite well before the mishap. We had to maneuver around some trees through a narrow part of the creek, and the water was moving faster at that point. We got pulled sideways up against a partly submerged tree and flipped right over it before either of us could blink. I grabbed hold of the canoe that had gone bottom up and was caught in the current. It pulled me through the trees, but I was able to sort of flip it and half-way get back in it. My bag and lifejacket were still in it, but we’d lost both oars. I turned back to make sure that my paddle partner was ok, and I saw that she was holding on to the tree, and her head was above water. I figured I could get her later, if I needed to, and I was determined to not let go of that effing canoe.

Luckily, there was a group of guys standing on a sand bar near the other side of the raging river creek, and two of them waded out far enough to snag our oars and  one of my shoes. By that time, I’d been able to plant myself and started dragging the canoe toward the sandbar in chest-deep water. It was rather difficult, and I was working with all my strength. I finally got it up to the sandbar, and the guys came over to help turn it over and get the water out. By that time, my friend had made it half-way there, so I just stayed put. My legs were shaking so badly, I could hardly stand. After an initial assessment, we found our phones to be in working order and we’d only lost one shirt between us. Win!

The nice guys who helped us left us on the sandbar checking our phones, and while we were doing so, we watched a lone kayaker flip in the same spot we did. We ran out in the chest-deep water to return the favor and help catch the stuff floating away. I managed to grab both her shoes, the paddle, her kayak and her bug spray. She was impressed I managed to catch the bug spray. We pulled the stuff over to the sandbar and noticed the woman was still fighting the current in the middle of the creek.

Us: “Are you ok?!”

Kayaker: “Yeah, thanks! Can you just get the stuff up there? I’ll be there in a minute.”

Us: “No problem! We got it.”

Kayaker: “My pants came off!”

Us (giving each other befuddled looks): “Your pants came off?”

Kayaker: “Yeah, they came completely off! I didn’t want to lose them, so I grabbed them and let the kayak go. I have them. I just can’t get them back on.”

Us: “Um….”

No worries, dear readers. She managed to get her pants most of the way on and make her way to shore. She kept thanking us profusely, but we were like, “Don’t sweat it. We’re just returning the favor.”

As we’re all standing there, we were watching another canoe come up alongside the opposite shore. We figured they’d seen the problem spot and were figuring out a different way to go through. Wrong. They started floating backwards and flipped in the exact same spot. So we waded out one more time to catch the canoe. That one was way harder than the kayak, but we managed to drag it up to shore. We did lose one paddle from that canoe, but we saved their cooler, so they were happy.

Let me tell you, the rocks on the bottom of the creek HURT. I’d not wanted to lose my shoes again, so I kicked them off before I headed out to get the kayak, and I could hardly walk back to our canoe by the time we were done fishing stuff out. I didn’t realize until I got home that I have a huge bruise on the side of my left foot from the end of the big toe all the way to the back of the arch of my foot. It’s about two inches wide and wraps from the top to the bottom of my foot. It’s a righteous reminder that I could have DIED out there.


Author: Laura

I have a fern I named Frankenstein. I like leprechauns, practicing kung fu moves on my dining room furniture, and pretending that one day I will move to Fiji. I dislike my neighbors' kids, anything that is chartreuse, and Ben Roethlisberger.

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