by Caren Crane
Hola, Bandita Buddies! As some of you know, I am a big fan of high adventure sports - or at least the ones I don't think are likely to kill me. I am lately returned from the end-of-year trip with my Girl Scout troop and am possessed of:
1. Rope burns (from the white, ironically-named "safety rope" on the zip lines).
2. Bruised calves and shins (those whitewater inflatable rafts are hard on the lower legs).
3. Sunburned knees (only my knees, mind you).
4. Three inexplicable sore, red lines on my upper left thigh (likely from inflatable raft - see 2).
5. Some awesome rafting pictures (as seen below).
6. Heartfelt gratitude for a) my life, b) my co-leader, Linda, and, c) Dale, our awesome whitewater rafting guide (also seen below).
See, we went whitewater rafting a couple of years ago. Same place, the awesome ACE Adventure Resort. Same river, the Lower Gauley. So, I felt confident that I could handle what the Gauley was dishing out.
How the river laughs at the confident! Two years ago we went in July, not in May. Two years ago, we had a serious rainfall deficit and the river was low. This spring, there was tremendous rainfall and snowmelt in West Virginia, so the river was up and quite adventuresome. The river, she laughed at me.
The river bided her time. After lunch, when we were a little logy from sun and food, we hit the bulk of the Class IV and Class V rapids. One of the Class IV's sucked us in, smacked us one way, spun us another, THEN smacked the raft exactly where I was sitting.
I knew I was a goner as soon as the wave hit. There I went, carried out of the boat on a tide of whitewater. Down for a second, then back up with river water in my eyes, nose and lungs. Still clinging to the oar, which I dared not release. Kicking furiously back toward the raft, where Dale and Linda were on point, ready to haul me back in, all while navigating a Class IV rapid.
Once I managed to wrestle my sodden, humiliated self back into the raft (with lots of help from Dale and Linda), we were right back on it with paddling. I never let that oar out of my death grip while I struggled to get my fat butt back in the raft! I cast an eye at the river and I swear I heard a gurgling laugh under the churning whitewater.
I still love high adventure sports and I definitely plan to go whitewater rafting again. And again. And probably one more time. I will not, however, forget to always beware the unknowable river. She will demand respect!
Have you ever taken something for granted and gotten a kick-in-the-pants wake-up call? Horses are famous for this, as are tricky intersections, sports involving flying object and driving routes you know like the back of your hand. Anyone else care to share a painful lesson learned?
By the way, none of the 11 teenagers nor my two co-leaders were dumped in the river. Just me, all wet, all by myself. I was glad it wasn't one of the teenagers, though, 'cause they made me s'mores later. I love them!