Strutting in Stride
July 2, 2014 by Will Johnson
As I packed for today’s river trip before the wake-up bell I felt alone at camp. Among the cabins, yesterday’s anxious, anticipatory rustling was replaced by the blissful silence of campers clinging to each possible second of sleep. Naturally, the serenity of early morning was immediately upended by the clanging bell at 7:45 and gave way to a wave of raucous excitement. We’re stretching out our stride, now, and all the fellas are caught in the delightful whirlwind of camp life.
Our first trips of the session ventured out and returned safely home today. Hikers went to nearby DuPont State Forest to explore Bridal Veil Falls and drift in Lake Julia. Climbers scaled a variety of routes on the main wall of Cedar Rock and were blessed with clear skies and dry rock. For campers who braved the biblical flooding of last summer, the superabundance of sunshine yesterday and today has allayed fears of another totally soaked session.
And while activities in camp buzzed under the smiling sky, I beat the resultant heat with eleven campers and three staff on the Tuckasegee river. Sometimes, the first trip of the session is a nervous one. Hands, occupied with other business all winter long, struggle to find their place again on the paddle. Partners who once spoke in silent strokes struggle to communicate. Not today. Three pairs took out tandem canoes; five paddled solo. Everyone looked like they paddled whitewater daily since last year’s closing day. More importantly, the guys were obviously joyful in every stroke they took. Being on the river all day is fun. Crashing waves, surging boils made a playground from put-in to take out; we piled into the van at the end of the trip already looking forward to the next.
The cabins Windswept, Chalet, Holiday IV, and Lakeside are currently drawn tightly around campfires as I wrap up writing. After they finish charring their mallows to satisfaction, games of mafia and tall tales are sure to round out their overnights. Starter campers are just back from Sliding Rock, where after testing the frigid waters of Looking Glass Creek they made their acquaintance with Dolly’s Dairy Bar. And after day’s excitement fades into night’s contented quiet, all we have to do is look forward to tomorrow.