Ward Stone (left) and William Ross (right) share their story of serendipity while paddling down the Smith River. (Photo by Joanne Hill)

Ward Stone knows the odds are fairly good.

A retired deputy with the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office, Stone also is a long time canoeing enthusiast who tells a tale of twice borrowing a canoe, convincing a paddling partner and heading down the Upper Smith River for a 19-mile canoe trip.

The first jaunt was with his brother, Stone said, and explained that when he was transferred to Virginia from Texas by the Army in 1985, he and his wife and children visited this part of the state. He picked up a brochure on white water canoeing. The first river listed was the Smith River.

It was described as having the first 15 miles continuously, being class I thru III rapids, with the last few miles as flat paddling. He thought this sounded like fun and held on to the brochure.

He and his family moved to Patrick County after his retirement from the Army. When his brother came to visit a year later — in 1996 – the two took their adventurous trip on the Smith River, but alas, they were not well prepared for their white water…

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