I spend my weekends paddling. And we're not talking relaxing jaunts on placid lakes, here-this is white-water canoeing.
I spend my weekends paddling. And we're not talking relaxing jaunts on placid lakes, here—this is white-water canoeing. There's always the possibility of a collision with a rock and a sudden swim in 32-degree water—but that adds to the fun. I love the excitement of racing and dodging rocks through a recently thawed stream, with ice chunks still on the banks. My husband and I commute every weekend during the spring from New York to Maine, where our racing club, the Maine Canoe and Kayak Racing Organization, hosts weekly races.
Still upright: Dr. Mitchell and her canoeing partner, Terry Wescott, navigate the narrow finish of the Marsh Stream Canoe Race in Maine.
I don't race with my husband—the nickname for a canoe paddled by a married couple is "Divorce Boat"—but rather the local "river troll" Terry Wescott. He knows how to navigate through almost any whitewater and acts as the master planner for our races. I paddle in the bow (that's the front) so that I can hit any rocks in the way and cushion the fall for Terry.
Last summer I found out how hard those rocks really are. During the Open Canoe Whitewater National Championships, a wave caught us from the side, throwing me face-first into a nearby rock. The canoe then ran over me, pinning my ankle. Fortunately, Terry caught my life vest and pulled me free. Despite a mild concussion and a fractured fibula, we finished the race.
This year, we vow to do better at Nationals. We're planning an almost-500-mile race on the Yukon River to help us prepare. But whether we place first or last, we always have fun doing what we do. The joy is in the process. See you on the water!
—Sandra Mitchell, DVM West End Veterinary Office, Newburgh, N.Y.