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Strange Animals, Lead Feet and Contagious Tents- Our First Weekend Back on the Kaweah

April 25th, 2006 Robyn Suddeth

On Friday night, it took hours to get any food or service at our favorite restaurant in town, and strange animals started making noises at three in the morning. Then on Saturday, Brook “Lead Foot” Johnson found herself hiding from a very angry campground manager who was covered in the dust kicked up from her truck, and bad river karma was passed on to an unwitting guide through a harmless-looking tent. What in the world was going on in Three Rivers?!!

As may have been gathered, our first weekend back on the Kaweah wasn’t, as they say, smooth as “buttuh”. Don’t get me wrong- we had a great time seeing each other and the river again. It’s just that there were a few small kinks to make the weekend that much more interesting.

The most entertaining of all those “kinks”, however, is this story of the Contagious Tent:

As some of you know, my whole spring season last year wasn’t, to re-use a fabulous term, smooth as “buttuh”. The Tuolumne handed me my first flip in April of 2005, and then the Kaweah obliged with numbers 2 through 4. All of this action on the river earned me the (very competitive) title of, “Flipper.”

As far as I knew, however, this flipping habit of mine wasn’t contagious. Or so we all thought…

This last weekend, I brought a tent down to the Kaweah with me, because weather forecasts were predicting thundershowers. Not only did I bring a tent… I brought a four person tent so that my friends might also benefit from my incredible forsight. I was very proud of myself.

Well, it turned out that everyone else also possessed that incredible forsight, and was either planning on sleeping in the back of a truck, in their own tent, or in a gear shed. My bubble had been bursted. Here I thought I had brought something useful and helpful, and my big tent was practically empty!

Being the good friend that he is, Matt Nunes saw my dissappointment in my un-used tent on Friday night, and so on Saturday night moved his sleeping gear from the back of the truck into my tent. My pride had been re-stored, I was happy to get to share my shelter, and this should be the end of a very sweet story.

But it’s not.

You see, on Saturday everything had gone really well on the river. Our guests were a bachelor party and a single enthusiast, and aside from one swim in Lower Slickies we all had a really smooth, fun day on the water.

On Sunday, the night after Matt had so kindly given some purpose to my huge tent, things seemed to be going just as well up until the very last hole in the very last rapid.

And then it happened. That hole grabbed his boat, sucked down the left tube, lifted up the right, and before they all could say “Hey I thought this only happened to Robyn!”, the boat was upside down and five new swim-team members were in the water.

Luckily, the river shortly thereafter flattens out into Kaweah Lake, and we had plenty of time and calm water to get everyone in boats and the raft back over.

Now, although it is true that the river is an unpredictable place and things like that can happen, we all nevertheless are always looking for ways to explain these occurances. And Matt found his right away.

As soon as we got back to camp, he shared it by saying:

“That’s the LAST time I sleep in your tent Robyn!”

Mystery solved.

But it’s all in good fun, and we wouldn’t be out there in the first place if there wasn’t the slightest chance that some things won’t go exactly as planned. But was Matt tempting fate by sleeping in a possibly marked tent???

We’ll never know. Maybe someone else should try sleeping in it and see what happens. Any volunteers??

(Alas, my poor tent may never reach it’s full potential.)

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