Personal Narrative

October 8, 2007
By Katelyn Rose, Andover, KS

“Grab the life jacket Hailey, then throw it over her neck……. Ok hold on!” I yelled. We were rafting down the Illinois River with our mission trip group and of course, our raft happened to have all girls and a girl leader. It was after we had stopped for lunch on the bank of the river and when going back out we were last in line of the seven rafts. By then we were tired of paddling but to stay up with the rest of the group we had to paddle full time. Since we didn’t want to accidentally be stuck in one of the logs or hit the bushes and that were in the middle of the river, and not be able to push ourselves out we tied our raft to the groups in front of us. That was not the greatest idea.

We had got to a calm point in the river so Jessica, one of the girls on our raft was sitting on the front edge with her legs hanging over. After a few minutes, we could see a log that was coming up in front of us, so we started to paddle so we could get to the side of it. Well we found out that it wasn’t the easiest thing to do with two rafts hooked side-by-side holding together by hair ties. So even with the help of all of us paddling we hit the log. Since we hit it pretty hard Jessica went flying into the air, about ten feet up, and landed hard in the water. While she tried to swim upstream to get back to our raft, we were trying to get uncaught from the log.

When we finally moved past the log and had Jessica back in our raft we decided to untie the two rafts but then re-tie them, front end of one the back end of the other. Soon after this, we hit a tree and bush that were in the middle of the river, by now we could all tell this was going to be a long six miles to the end. We couldn’t seem to get out of this one either, so both of the leaders jumped out to try to unhook us from the tree but, Jenny, one of our leaders didn’t have her life jacket on. So while I was trying to pull Jenny up out of the water, which, by the way is impossible, Hailey was trying to get Jenny’s life jacket out of the other raft. After what seemed like an eternity, we got a life jacket over her head. While this was all happening, we didn’t realize that the other leader, Shari, was getting pulled under the raft and trying to hold herself up out of the water. So once we got her in we had started to pull loose of the tree, and since none of us wanted to get out of the raft again we pushed off of it with our paddles, and finally got going again.

After floating successfully down the river for about a mile, we could finally see the end. Also, the water was very shallow and our raft kept getting caught on the rocks, so I jumped out of the raft and was pulling both of connected rafts the rest of the way to the end. There were several rafts full of people we didn’t know that were trying to scream something at me, but I couldn’t hear them. Suddenly there was a huge drop off and I wasn’t near being able to touch, so I hung on to the raft, trying to get in, forgetting that I still had my glasses on, and they fell into the water. I couldn’t find them. When we finally got onto the shore and were loading our raft into the trailer, still being mad about loosing my glasses, I saw them; they were stuck to the bottom of the raft. Now I had my glasses, but they were crumpled into a ball and the sidepiece was broken off, because we had dragged the raft onto shore.

When we got back to the parking lot, we realized that Lisa, one of the sponsors, had locked her keys into the car. Also, she had the key that opened the moneybox in her car, so we couldn’t go out to eat in Tahlequah on our way back to our work site. So we had to call the triple A guy to come out and get the van unlocked, and found out it would be about a two-hour wait. While we were waiting for him, we found a wire to try to pick the lock to the moneybox. The only problem was that there was a plastic coat on the wire, and it wouldn’t fit into the lock. So I chewed the plastic coating off of the wire so that McKenzie could pick the moneybox. Believe me it was nasty trying to chew the plastic off of it, not knowing where it came from and whose it was. But once I got it off, McKenzie tried and tried to pick the lock and finally she got it. We could go eat. While in Tahlequah eating, we had lots of great stories to tell about our difficult and frustrating but amazingly fun rafting trip.

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