SNOW CANOEING FOR
THE SELF-STYLED EXPERT
By Guy Spastic
As an expert
skier, I usually get bored with the same local runs by January. I'd already
been skiing so much my season lift ticket had more miles on it than the
National Enquirer's story of Mike Jackson. A skier of my caliber shouldn't have
to put up with those long lift lines full of beginners.
In fact, I have
always mastered every winter sport, just by my natural inclination, so now I
was looking for something new I could turn into another notch on my long belt
of expertise. Thus, I was overjoyed when a friend called me late Friday
"Got any plans for Saturday?" he asked. "We're going snow
canoeing - how about coming along?"
I couldn't believe my ears. I had
never heard of this winter sport before. He continued, "Have you ever been snow
There wasn't a chance in a hundred I would let on
that I had never heard, much less been, and give him the chance to educate me.
"Of course," I yawned, "been hundreds of times. Millions."
"Good, then you know what to bring. Meet me at the off ramp next to
Liars Butte about six tomorrow morning." He hung up.
Something new - and
I was already an expert. I could just feel it surging through my veins. Snow
canoeing - that would require a canoe, certainly. I already had a fifteen
hundred dollar whitewater canoe. I would be the envy of all the snow canoers
with that beauty. If I waxed it, I could make it go faster. Faster meant more
wind, so I needed a snowmobile suit.
I threw wax and the suit into the
canoe, along with hat, gloves, goggles, arctic boots, and my motorcycle helmet.
Naw, a real expert doesn't need a helmet. I spent all night, with the canoe on
the kitchen table, putting a pro wax job on it, assured I'd be the fastest snow
By the time I finished the wax job, it was about 4:30
a.m.; I just had time to brew a pot of coffee. I had to get there first, that
way I could give my buddy a hard time about being a lightweight snow canoer.
While the pot was brewing, I loaded the gear and tied the canoe to the
roof of my car. I woke up the dog so he could share in my pending grandeur, in
the snow canoers circle of fame, grabbed a cup of java, and out the door we
I arrived with about thirty minutes to practice some canoe
maneuvers, and get warmed up so I could shame my buddy at his own sport.
Donning my brilliant chartreuse and safety orange snowmobile suit, I cut the
ropes that held the canoe, and got the dog out of the car.
As the sun
came streaming over the mountain, I could see the weekend ski traffic already
starting to build, as I dragged the canoe up the steep side of Liars Butte. My
faithful hound followed a safe distance behind. Upon reaching the summit, I
turned and gazed down the slope, thinking how odd it looked steeper from the
Cars pulled over at the bottom of the hill, and a fair sized
crowd gathered. This was great I didn't realize I'd have spectators to
cheer me on. I positioned the canoe for the best run down the slope, dropped my
goggles over my eyes, and beckoned my hound to join me.
As the canoe
tipped over the edge and began a graceful decent, my dog sat down in the snow,
and for a brief moment I thought I saw him shake his head. I couldn't
comprehend why he didn't want to share the limelight that waited at the bottom
of the hill.
The canoe picked up speed remarkably fast, even faster
then I had anticipated, and I could hear the cheers of the crowd as I raced
towards them. About then, I saw my buddy's car pull up behind the string of
cars parked on the highway, and he was out in an instant. His arms were
flailing wildly, and I knew this was an exhibit of adolescent jealousy. I
grinned with glee, savoring the moment.
The speed of the canoe must
have approached nearly sixty miles per hour, and upon reaching the ditch, I
knew there would be no stopping to sign autographs before I crossed the road.
That wasn't the problem though, before I could cross the road, I had to get
through the parked cars and the crowd of fans. The fans must have seen this, as
they were already running in many directions to clear a path for me. Visions of
the helmet I had rejected flashed through my mind, as did vivid images of the
automobiles that were now far below me as I cleared all four lanes of the
Traveling at nearly 70mph, and 20 feet off the ground, coupled
with the all too sudden stop into the bridge abutment on the far side of the
highway, reduced my fifteen hundred dollar whitewater canoe into about
thirty-seven cents worth of fiberglass splinters.
As for me, I was
reduced to a quivering heap, barely conscious, my ever-faithful hound licking
ice and fiberglass from my twisted face. Surrounded by a bewildered crowd, I
stared blankly into my buddy's eyes. I felt I owed him an explanation, and
blurted out between sobs, "I lied to you, bud! I've never been snow canoeing."
The last thing I heard among the snickers and jeers was my buddy's
baffled reply, "Snow-shoeing I said we were going snow-shoeing!"