Thursday, March 23, 2006


When my son was about 7 or 8, two fellow workers told me they were going canoeing in the Grand Canyon of Pa in Tioga Cty.Pa. They asked if my family would like to go along... a nice weekend camping trip. We had only canoed on ponds and lakes and I told them I would be a little worried about canoeing in any kind of rapids.

One of them, Bud, with whom we had camped before, stated that the water was low at this time of the year and there would be little in the way of rapids. My wife and I decided to go, and we rented canoes on the way to the Grand Canyon. We set up camp in the State Park overlooking the canyon, and the next morning, drove to Wellsboro, where we could enter the river.

The first hour was uneventful and I removed my lifejacket because of the heat. We arrived at a rapids bounded by rocks, which Bud said was the only rapids on the river at this time of year. Bud helped me carry my family`s canoe past this impediment and I asked him if I could go through the rapids with him [as front paddler]. It was exhilarating!!

Barb, Sean and I got back in our canoe and we paddled for another 15 minutes. Ahead of us, Bud hollered something back, which I could not make out. However, in a minute, I understood! We were approaching another rapids.......

As we neared the rapids, which was smaller than the first one, but still formidable for lake canoers, I became very anxious...Here I was in a canoe, an inexperienced paddler, with the lives of my wife and son foolishly in peril! We were at the entrance to the rocks and the water was tumbling, roiling...Barb was scared, Sean was mute..What the hell could I do? I sure couldn`t steer through this!

Finally, an idea struck me. I carefully put one foot out of the canoe to impede our forward progress,and pointed the canoe at the middle of the water [no longer a river].I stepped out of the canoe and let go!...

Two things happened then that hadn`t occurred to me.[All of this happened in seconds!] First, as soon as I let go of the canoe, the rapids pulled me under and into the churning water; Second, I had never put my life jacket back on! I was pulled through the rocks, underwater, unable to breathe, my body striking the rocks.

As I tumbled, not breathing, my thoughts turned to "relax let the water take you up". As I still wasn`t breathing,I thought better of this[Thank God !!] and started clawing and scratching at the passing rocks...I found a purchase and, after catching my breath, pulled myself up on a large rock.

Good and bad!! My wife and son were safely in the canoe, which had not capsized......I couldn`t move my left leg [there was no feeling below my hip]. I laid back, thankful my family and I were alive, and feeling started coming back to my leg. Just a pinched nerve!

Bud used a rope to pull me to the other bank and I told him we were finished with canoeing; if he was unable to tow my canoe the rest of the way,I`d just let the thing go by itself. He towed the canoe and Barb, Sean and I walked about three miles to a place where some trucks were parked. Both of them were great! No anger, no recriminations.

When we arrived, the other couple we were with had their car at the base, but said they couldn`t get up the hill with all of us. I [in very strong terms] told the guy that he would try to take my son and wife up with them! Which he did, successfully. I stayed at the base that night unable to climb out.

The next day I found out that the other couple grilled steaks that night, offering my wife and son nothing! [something I later expressed my feelings to him about! Bud and his wife were at the base and the next morning we were able to drive out, with a lot of help. Boy, we really enjoyed that trip to the Grand Canyon of Pa. !!!!!!!!