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52 Godly Men : Men of Today Teaching the Men of Tomorrow » My Journey » Week 26: A Day on the River

Week 26: A Day on the River

Chris and IRemember those Tom Sawyer stories? You know, the ones where Tom and Huck are just drifting down the river, as relaxed as can be? Well, today I got to experience a little of that; just drifting down a river as calm as can be. Well, okay, so there were some rapids, but for the most part, the Hiawassee was like a mirror, reflecting the gorgeous scenery around me. And to make things even better, I wasn’t soaking in the beauty alone. I was with Chris Christiansen, a man who has done just about everything, and (more importantly) knows how to safely float down a river without flipping.

He picked me up from my house at noon, and we drove out to the Hiawassee. For our ride, Chris had brought with him his inflatable kayak (which looks just like it sounds). After paying the transportation company or a ride, we pumped up the kayak and got on our way. The river was mainly calm, and we just floated along peacefully. We each had a paddle, but we didn’t use them a lot. The only thing that detracted from the perfection of everything was the fact that the kayak would persistently spin around in the water, thus persuading us to travel backwards half the time. However, we would just ride it out, and sooner or later it would straighten itself out.

It was very peaceful on the river, and it almost made one want to fall asleep, but then we hit the first set of rapids. They weren’t that bad, but they made the boat jump up and down quite a bit. The number one thing to remember when you’re in rapids, Chris said, is to keep the boat straight. If it drifts sideways, you almost always capsize. We got through the rapids without any trouble, though, and hit another stretch of calm water. The scenery on that river was some of the best I’ve ever seen, and the water was clear and beautiful as well. We just sat back and soaked it in for a few minutes, and it was nearly overwhelming.

About this time, the sun started to really beat down on us, and Chris decided to jump in and cool off. You should have seen the look on his face when he realized that the water was about 55˚F! But I was getting hot as well, so I got in too. Whew! It was cold! But it felt good, especially since it was a really hot day. When we had clambered back into the kayak, the sun felt good on our cold skin, and we continued down the river. We hit another section of rapids, but pretty well aced them, and Chris decided that I was experienced enough to paddle all by myself. I snapped the paddles together to make a regular kayak paddle, and we started back off. The rest of the trip was pretty much the same as what I’ve been describing, so I won’t bore you by telling you every last thing that happened. Other than some more big rapids, it wasn’t until the end of the trip that anything different happened.

About two tenths of a mile upstream from the end of the journey is a train bridge that crosses the river about twenty feet up. It’s a popular place to jump off of, and there were plenty of people there. To get up on the tracks, though, is  different story. We had to climb a sheer rock face supporting the tracks, and then actually clamber onto the bridge structure and walk out to the middle. Once Chris and I were up there, we learned a very important lesson in geometry: simply that a distance that from the ground looks like 20 feet actually doubles in height once you are looking down it (needless to say, I let Chris jump first). However, after realizing that the only ways down were

  1. climb back down the structure (ha, ha)
  2. walk back don the tracks half a mile until they met the ground (ha, ha), or
  3. jump off the bridge.

After weighing my options, I jumped. Of course, I had to forget keep my hands to my sides (which ended up with me taking some skin off my palms), but other than that, I was fine. I felt better when I saw that almost everybody that jumped did it the conventional way, with lots of backing down taking place, except for some hotshot high-schooler that executed a perfect back layout off the structure (you just had to do that, didn’t you). Still, he might be the next high-diving champ of the world, one never knows.

Chris ChristiansenWhen we had finished the river run, and packed everything up in the car, we took off. It was about an hour’s drive to the Hiawassee, so it gave Chris and I a lot of time to talk and to ask questions. The first thing that I asked him was why he decided to be an electrician. He said that he hasn’t found his particular niche in life yet, so until he does, he’s just doing something that’ll pay the bills. The next question I asked was what his most and least discerning choices have been through life. He replied that his wisest was attending Lee University instead of UGA, and also breaking up with a girl that wasn’t very serious about their future; she was just living “in the now”. For most unwise, he said that not getting married in his twenties was a bad decision, simply because he wasn’t able to have a family early in life. The last question I asked him was a bit odd, but here it is; after all that he’s learned, and if he could do it all over again, where would he take his first date. He chuckled a bit, and said that he would recommend going bowling or seeing a movie. He says not to go out to eat, because if the talking doesn’t go well, there isn’t anything else to do. But with bowling, you can always revert back to the game if things don’t go smoothly. Not bad, huh?

And that just about wraps up my day with Chris. Beautiful scenery, great discussions, cold water, and a wonderful day all combined to make one feel like they were stepping into a Mark Twain story. Just calmly bobbing down the Hiawassee without a care in the world. But you don’t have to take my word for it, do you? Try it out for yourself!

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