I've been wanting to paddle along the
Shoal River for a while now and finally talked the Island King into
making the trip with me.
We got our stuff together Saturday
night and were supposed to leave around 9 on Sunday morning. Except,
we're not morning people and when the alarm went off I turned it off
instead of hitting snooze, rolled over and went back to sleep.
We woke up a little later, had some
coffee and by the time we were ready to leave it was noon.
The route we were taking is 10 miles
and the Island King declared we could do that in 2.5 hours. I told
him the website I'd looked at said it takes 4 hours but he said that
must be wrong.
I really didn't care how long it was
going to take but I grabbed the Q-beam we use in our boat, just in
We dropped his truck off at the Bill
Duggan Jr. Park on Hwy 85, which is where we planned to end up
then we continued in my truck up to the Ray Lynn Barnes boat launch
on Hwy 90 just east of Crestview.
As we were driving the Island King
sighed and said “I hope this doesn't turn out to be a Donner Party
I'm not sure why he's always so
convinced that my adventures are going to end up like the Donner
party. Yes, we've been lost and stuck and have had to call for help
but we've never suffered from hypothermia or had to eat anyone in our
party so I'm not sure why he calls my missions Donner Party missions.
I will say that in this particular case
we were leaving a bit later than we should have... just like the
Donner Party, but by this time I was in Damn the Torpedoes mode and
we were going.
We put the canoe in the water at 4:07
and since he'd declared the article about how long the trip would
take wrong, the Island King felt like we'd have no problem getting to
the pull out spot right before sunset.
Off we went and I can tell you this
stretch of the river is gorgeous.
We paddled under the P&A railroad
The I10 interstate bridge
And continued winding our way along the
We stopped a few times on some of the
sandbars along the bank and at one point the Island King told me to
pull up Google Maps on my phone see how much farther we needed to go.
“I'm thinking we're over 3/4 of the way
there” he says.
I wish I had taken a picture of his
face when he saw this.
Ummm actually we still have 3/4 of the way to go.
The sun was just hitting the tops of
the trees and we weren't even close to our pull out spot.
We paddled a little faster and then ran
into a huge log jam.
We made a left into a small slew and
paddled around the backside of an island, hoping to find another way
The little slew was jammed
as well so we pulled the canoe across a sandbar, around the log jam
and then back into the main part of the river.
As he was pulling the canoe, he kept
muttering something about “Mrs. Donner said there would be no
The article I read said there was no
portaging but this is a river and rivers change daily – which he
knows – so I'm not taking blame on that one.
Despite the fact that it was getting
dark, we were still enjoying ourselves and watching the sunset along
the river was really pretty.
But then we went from this
It's a shame we didn't do this on a
full moon because paddling by moonlight would have been amazing.
Sadly, there was no moon and it was
You can call me Mrs. Donner all you
want but at least I brought the big light – which is a good thing
because we couldn't see our hands in front of our faces.
We'd been talking earlier about the
Indians using this river so many years ago and after it got dark we
decided they probably only got on the river at night during a full
Finally, we came around a bend and
could see the boat ramp in the distance.
Despite the fact that I was having a
lot of fun I was really glad to see that ramp. My arms were aching,
my butt was asleep and my feet were freezing.
We got to the ramp at 8:17 and the
Island King said “well damn, I guess they were right about this
taking 4 hours.”
I love it when he's wrong and I
couldn't resist pointing out that we were not suffering from
hypothermia and we didn't have to eat each other along the way.
We may have gotten back a lot bit later
than expected but we made it.
I can't wait to do it again but this
time I want to leave a little earlier and a full moon would be