|The UAA Nordic team during the Schauer / Hiemer era, in 2009. Recognize any faces here?|
|Karl and Paul during their UAA Ski Team days. The guy sitting behind them was keeping his eye on these two donkeys.|
|My history with the Schauer boys goes way back. Here I am hanging out with them in Greenland in 2002. Look at the size of that camera around Paul's neck - it's almost as big as his little brother!|
|Paul (Notice the elbow pads. I don't know about you, but I don't normally go boating in places that require body armor.)|
|Four fifths of our group: Steffi, Emma Brooks, Paul and Karl.|
Steffi and I were thus put at ease about the paddling that awaited us, but the trepidation came back double at the put-in when Karl put on a helmet with a face mask and Paul put on a one-piece survival suit that had a rip cord attached to the front, a parachute on the back, a klettersteig rig wrapped around the side, and a bunch of other rocket-propelled doo-dads and knick-knacks that could be unleashed in an instant in case of any kind of emergency. Suddenly, Steffi and I were once again looking for hiking options in the area.
|This is how Karl retrieves a lost paddle - with a special paddle-biner attached to a throw bag, attached to a life jacket, attached to Karl.|
|The Schauer boys comparing gadgets.|
Meanwhile, Karl generously offered to let me use his best paddle jacket while he used his old leaky one because, as he told me "...you probably have a lot better chance of having to take a swim". At this point, Steffi and I were starting to think of ways we could end things painlessly in case the situation got dire out on the river.
|If there was to be trouble ahead, my emergency plan was to use my knife to sink my boat and get it over with quickly.|
|The thought of drowning scares Steffi. If the boat flipped, she figured she'd go straight for the wrists to avoid drowning.|
|Never miss an opportunity to practice a rescue.|
|Fun on the beach. I think Karl was doing backflips or something.|
|The "Helmet of Death" survives another day.|
I hadn't seen Karl and Steffi in far too long - not since July in Bavaria. Nor had I seen Paul since last Wednesday on Kodiak Island. And it was fun to meet Emma for the first time. As it turned out, this was the right trip, on the right river, with the right people - a day I won't soon forget!