Virginia Holman's Spring 2013
CRW 320: ADVENTURE WRITING
15 April 2013
"I hope you don't mind that I'm competitive," Heather called back. She plunged her paddle into the water, stroking vigorously. "I just like to win."
I laughed. I was watching her paddle avidly, trying to time my own strokes with hers. Left, right, left, right - we took long strokes, and out kayak sliced through the water. The river's current ran beneath our bright red kayak and we fought against it.
The Black River wasn't a demanding body of water to kayak, but to two inexperienced girls, it was proving to be more than a match. Half of our class seemed to agree; we had split into two groups. Most of the heavier tandem kayaks had lagged behind with two guides, while the experienced or stronger kayakers were up ahead with Virginia.
The glassy surface of the river barely betrayed the current's relentless direction, and the bright green and dark brown of the surrounding trees reflected in the blackwater below. <more>
15 March 2013
Kayaking The Black River
To say I was nervous about kayaking would be an understatement. Even though I'm twenty-two and have lived on the coast my entire life, I don't know how to swim. The thought of being in a small boat on a murky river for hours terrified me. Yes, I'd have a life vest; yes, I'd be in a tandem kayak; yes, there were three very experienced and certified kayak guides. I knew all these things, but knowing them in my head, and getting my anxiety under control were two different things entirely. <more>
Ryan Geoffrey Smith
Black River Creative Response
My heart began to thump with adrenaline as I hopped into the tandem kayak. Our kayak cut through the glassy surface of the Black River. Shelby, my co-navigator of the Black River, and I must have had some sort of telepathy. We stayed in perfect harmony the entire trip. Our paddle blades silently sliced the surface tension, and we propelled our way to the forefront of the group in the first few knots of the voyage.
Our adventure mentor and kayaking professor, Virginia Holman, coolly started sliding up on our port side. As we made our way down the river, Virginia informed us of some very interesting information. <more>
We'd probably been on the river for three or four hours when we hit the swamp. Most of the Black River had been mild and calm, and, like its name, very black. In shallower parts the water was the color of sweet tea. The Black River almost looked completely dead in places, most of the trees were gray. One tree we passed had a large burl, and it looked like a giant face, almost tribal looking.
It was hot, and you could tell the river was drying up in some parts. When we stopped for lunch there were several dry spots we had to make sure to avoid, so we we wouldn't have to portage.
We'd been paddling upstream for a couple hours, working against the current. We found a small bank, pulled the kayaks up, and had lunch before heading into the Three Sisters swamp.
It was easy to tell when we'd reached the swamp. <more>