Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Cool Sensation

Saturday, August 30th

I got it in my head to go white water rafting ever since I saw a photo of my mom doing it somewhere.  Lo and behold, a few months ago, I was walking on campus and came upon a poster for a white water rafting adventure with a student organization.  Holy Toledo, a sign if ever there was one!

I was the only non student and the oldest of the group of 21 others -- international students from Australia, Germany and Norway as well as locals ranging in age from 20-30 years old.  They welcomed me and asked lots of questions about what I did at the library.   The students were fabulous and I loved the opportunity to hang out with them in a social setting. 

We drove in two vans to Coloma, near Auburn for our adventure on South Fork on the American River.  This section of the river is for Class 2 and 3 rapids, 4 and 5 being for advanced skilled people only.  I learned a lot about how the river is regulated.  Our trip began in Coloma and we would end in Folsom Lake, a 10-12 mile run on the American River.  The photos I'm sharing are from last year.  I'm hoping to get the pics and video of our particular boat....  Oh my God, the life jacket.  They strap you in tightly.  My boobies were flattened.  My rib cage could barely expand.  But, this is for our protection.

Our guide's name was Don.  He's 61 years and a super cat.  Loved him.  So, first up, getting into the boat.  I slipped and fell into the river.  Sigh, not a good start.....  Don gave us the drill about how to row with our oars, and what to do if we ended up in the river or our boat capsized. 

All of the rocks and other bits of scenery on the lake have names that reflect what they look like.  10 minutes into the ride, we would encounter Dildo Rock, and anyone who hits Dildo and blows it is a real dildo.  Guess what we did ... you got it, we hit the rock, a Class 2 lame ass rock.  As Don would tell us repeatedly on our journey, this hasn't happened in 30 years ... sigh.

Guess what happened next.  We frigging blew it.  You see, we hadn't gotten our groove yet.  It's all about teamwork.  So, Mr. A out in the front, slipped but his leg was still in the boat, so, the uneven weight balance threw all of us, and we plunged into the water.  Oh, let's talk about the water temperature.  While not freezing, it was frigging cold.

What happened next is a blur.  I was completely disoriented.  And panicked.  I thought I might die of a heart attack. I swallowed water.  I know I hit some rocks.   Don yelled at me to go under the boat (it had capsized).  So, I did.  And then, I remembered what we had learned.  Become an otter with your feet above the water and float down the river.  So, I let go and relaxed.  Except.  Oh my goodness, I seemed to going down the river at 10 mph.  I began to feel like a rag doll.  Oh lookey ahead at the big boulder sticking out of the water.  I'm going to smash right into it and die.  These are the sorts of things that goes through one's mind.  Oh lookey, the sky is really blue and pretty.  And then, once again, it kicked in, the training they gave us, bend your legs, hit the rock with your feet and shove off.  And that's exactly what I did.

Ahead, maybe a half mile down river, I could see that my teammates had all been rescued by another boat.  Hello, what about me.  I spun around and heard Don yelling at me.  You see, there were rapids ahead and well, I didn't want my body parts to be pulverized into hamburger, and I remember him yelling swim, so that's what I did, or tried to do, swim cross current to the river bank.  At first, I didn't go anywhere and then I was at a shallow section.  Don caught up to me and told me to get into the boat.  I said, "Make me Mister."  I was frigging done. I wanted to go home.  He looked at me.  I looked at him.  I got into the boat and we formed a lifelong friendship.

We rounded up our crew, no easy feat.  And we became one raunchy team referencing the Dildo experience throughout our 4.5 hour journey.  At first, everyone had the same thought as I did, "I want to go home."  But, we found our groove, determined not to capsize again.  We frigging rocked as we rode the river.  We conquered.  We blew the rapids.  We kicked ass.  We rode up and down rocks.  It's like being in the ocean riding waves by the way.

I did smash my hand against a gigantic boulder and worried that I broke my hand but it was just a bad ass blood bruise.  Our raunchy bunch simply took it all in as part of an incredible experience.   Would I do it again?  Undecided..  It is a mental and physical challenge dependent upon a team.  And exhausting.  But I loved everything moment of it despite discovering cuts and bruises the day after.   Here's to you, Mom.

1 comment:

Alison Chaiken said...

I take it that your boat did not have a guide in it? The one time I tried rafting, I had the opposite experience as you, since I found it a bit tame. From the start it was pretty clear that the guide didn't need us passengers to maneuver the raft. The experience was still fun, but more like a roller-coaster than athletic participation.