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A Dog Day Afternoon on the South Fork American
by Michelle Lemley 8/1/2007

By Maggie Schmiechen, as told to Michelle Lemley:

"Hi. My name is Maggie, or Mags for short. I'm what you humans refer to as a 'dog,' but I much prefer the term, 'Feline Terror Machine.'** In any case, I'm a Border Collie/ Australian Shepherd mix weighing in at a trim 51 pounds. My Mom, Kathie Schmiechen, likes to take me kayaking with her. A few weeks ago, I ran from Coloma to Greenwood on the South Fork American with my Mom, Michelle Lemley and Glenn Box.

I heard Michelle and Glenn were a little worried when Mom told them I was coming along without a boat. She assured them I had floated this run several times before, and I had my own PFD. I was about to show those naysayers a thing or two. When Mom said, "Let's go for a swim" at the put-in, I jumped right in the water and started paddling. In the first little riffle, I expertly slid into the top of the eddy, then peeled out and headed downstream.

Still wanting to prove to my Mom's human friends I was a seasoned river-runner, I headed straight down the middle of the wave train at Gremlins. When I came to the large rock island in the center, I surfed right up onto it and stood tall above the eddy. I guess I was showing off a little bit, but when my Mom cruised right on by without noticing my feat, I was miffed. I yelped at her several times, trying to get her attention, but she didn't hear me. Disappointed, I jumped into the eddy, peeled out, and continued down to the eddy below to watch the humans surf. Bor-ing!

The next rapid was Old Scary. Glenn and Michelle wanted me to run the left side because that side is easier. It's not like I am some stinkin' newbie -- sheesh! I ran the right side and even caught a couple of eddies. That shut 'em up.

After our lunch break at the park, we noticed the water level was dropping pretty quickly, so we booked it on down to Barking Dog. (Frankly, I find the name of this rapid offensive. It's true "Barking Feline Terror Machine" would be awkward, but still, we deserve to be treated with a little respect!) I eddied out above the rapid and climbed up on the big rock on river left to bag some rays and watch the humans surf again. At least on this wave they performed some stupid human tricks worth watching. When they were finally ready to go, I jumped into the eddy below the rock and paddled out the bottom. I simply refuse to run such an inappropriately named rapid.

After Barking What-ever, there was a lot of tedious flat water, so I decided to take a break and ride on the bow of my Mom's kayak. As we got to the lip of the next rapid, I stood up and was about to jump off and run the gnar. Unfortunately, I lost my balance and almost tipped my Mom over. Mom exclaimed, "Maggie! Don't rock the boat! Don't tip the boat over!" (Then she said something like, "Ooh hoo, baby!" I have no idea what she meant by that.) Anyway, we decided it would be better for me to ride on the stern after that.

After still more flat water, we came to Current Divider. By this time, the water was low enough that Mom got a little worried I might be in danger of paw entrapment. Truth be told, I was getting a little tired anyway. The humans had seen enough to be duly impressed by my paddling mojo, and besides, Mom had told them I'd run Highway and Swimmers' on other trips. Satisfied I had nothing more to prove, I jumped onto the back of Mom's boat and rode the rest of the way down to Greenwood on the stern. (I held on just fine without any assistance, thank you very much.)

When we got to Greenwood Creek, I got out for a stretch. Mom was trying to hand-roll in the eddy for a while. After my break, I was refreshed and ready to run the Gorge, but the humans wanted to quit for the day. I think they were chicken, but they made some excuse about it being 'beer-thirty,' so we headed up the hill and off to Marco's. All in all, it was a great day of paddling. I didn't even have to rescue the humans for a change.


**No cats were actually terrorized during the making of this story, nor by Maggie -- ever. Good dog. --


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