This is one of those stories that I’d happily keep locked away in a dark place somewhere. I made the witnesses swear themselves to silence and vowed to myself that I’d never tell a soul. Well, I’ll be first to say that I’m a hypacrit and about to tell the whole dang world about my little “oops” that I still look back on and cringe at with disgust.
The day started off just as any other day. The river silently and almost ghostly flowed by camp on a brisk fall morning with the smell of coffee permiating through the canvas cooktent where my mom joyfully cooked biscuits and gravey. I was guiding a couple that day, Craig and Marty, who happened to be very close family friends. They had come to camp for a few days and today was their last day.
After a hearty breakfast that threatened to put me into a food coma, we rolled into the 18 foot, flat bottom jet boat and headed downriver for an 8 hour day of fishing. It was a beautiful morning with a sky vacant of any clouds and a briskness that nipped at my cheeks. Fall was just around the corner and I couldn’t help but get excited for fall mouse fishing and fat rainbows. I was riding cloud nine that morning.
The day of fishing was just as I thought it would be. Full of fat fish, grip n grins and sunscreen. If my memory serves me correct, I even think we saw a bear. It was about 4:30 and we had roughly a 45 minute boat ride back to camp (5pm is when all boats must be back). So we decided to call it a day and head home. We were about 15 minutes into our trip back when we came to a vast, calm and almost lake like section of river. I knew my gas tank was running low so I figured this would be a good spot to lean down and switch tanks….without stopping.
I made one last look to make sure we were going in the right direction before I leaned down and took the hose off the tank. It’s usually pretty easy to get back on but for some reason the hose wouldn’t fit into the other tank. Frusterated, I tried harder and took my eyes off my road. It was then that a little voice in the back of my head said,”Look up, Camille.” I looked up and my heart stopped. I was headed straight for the bank and had no time to turn or even slow down! Craig was laying down in the boat with his jacket over his head so he had no clue what was about to happen, Marty however, saw the whole thing unfold. I can’t even imagine what was going through her mind, other than, “I’m going to die!” She too was laying in the boat and as a result it was difficult for her to turn around and warn me that we were about to exit the river at full speed. I had just enough time to brace myself before we hit. It was like I was in the movie The Dukes of Hazzard. The boat cleared the bank and skidded accross the long-bladed grass with the motor screaming a terrible high pitch whine that only ment it was no longer in the water. I frantically hit the kill switch as the boat came to a stop.
I looked around and immediately started apologizing. I scanned the scene only to find there was no water running beneath the boat and we were a good 8 feet up on the bank. Craig wakes up and when he sees that we’ve vacated the river he starts to laugh and says,”Geez Camille, 5 seconds ago we were floating!”
I would have sat there and laughed with them for a bit but I knew I only had moments to get the boat back into the water before Dan, one of the other guides I worked with, came around the corner to see me high and dry. There was no way I was going to let that happen. So I ushered everyone out and started to jerk the boat back towards the river. After a few tugs, the boat was floating again, there were a few grass stains on the hull but other than that, it was unscathed. However, the grass where the boat was once sitting had been matted down to the point where it would have been obvious that a boat was sitting there. So I tried ruffling the grass up so it looked natural again. At this point I could hear Dan’s boat coming and I had to get going before he came around the corner. I pushed the boat out, started the motor and took off just as Dan came around the bend. A huge sigh of relief was all that I could muster, I got so incredibly lucky.
Craig and Marty said they would never tell a soul and I vowed to myself that I’d never say anything, but to be honest, it’s too good of a story not to tell. Everyone has their dumb moments and the best thing you can do is embrace it and laugh at yourself. Life is too short not to.