12 March 2012


"Some rivers just scare you," Johnny said. “There's one in West Virginia, the Cheat. I've run more difficult water, but there's something about the Cheat that I'm really afraid of. I can't explain it." (Kane 130)

It must be the water in my blood.

After a long winter, it warms and flows a little faster, remembering its ancient course over jagged sandstone ledges through wild mountain canyons. It manifests itself in my dreams first. A rush. A sensation of falling. Suffocating panic. And I haven't been on the Cheat River in fifteen years.

A wave at Decision Rapid flipping a fifteen foot raft end over end.

Upper Coliseum Rapid being altered by high water during the winter of 1993-1994.

A terrible swim at that very same rapid that I'll only tell you about if you buy me a drink.

A dozen waterfalls plunging down the canyon walls at High Falls Rapid after a heavy rain.

The undercut at Teardrop Rapid.

Big Nasty.

That the water in my blood remembers is no surprise. That I still dream of walking down the sandy path to the put-in... That I still dream of paddling like my life depended on it... That I dream of fighting to surface for air that's always too far away and wake up still holding my breath... That's how I know the river will be in my blood forever.

Kane, Joe. "ROARING THROUGH Earth's Deepest Canyon." National Geographic. Jan 1993: 130. Web. 12 Mar. 2012. .

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