White Water Rafting MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   As the bus meandered along the country roads, questionsfloated through my mind: How far were we from the Snake River? Where were ourguides? In our bus full of tourists, my mom, sister and I felt foolish being theonly ones who rented wet suits for our Colorado rafting adventure. As the busdescended a gravel hill, I saw a turbulent, muddy river eager to swallow me.Along the bank were college students awaiting our arrival with dozens of yellowrafts.

Our guide, Kim, was muscular and had long, dirty blond hair thathung in clumps. We introduced ourselves to her and the other passengers; therewas one couple on their honeymoon and a group of five college girls. One of themchristened our raft "Chick Boat," and that's when I knew this would bea real adventure.

As Kim guided us to the middle of the river, we werequickly moving downstream. As our speed increased, so did my worries. Kimleisurely explained paddling and modeled a sitting position that helps keep youfrom falling out. She also explained how to catch a rope if we went overboard,how to climb back in and help others climb into the raft. Most terrifying of all,she informed us that we had about three minutes to get out of the 38 degree waterbefore hypothermia would set in. The river was at flood stage, as it is everyJune, because the mountain snows were melting. I listened intently and wonderedhow anyone could enjoy this.

The walls of the canyon rose 400 feet oneither side. Sprinkled among the rocks were a few aspens and evergreens trying tosurvive. Parallel to the river was a winding road without a guardrail. I couldeasily imagine a car tumbling into the water. The river reflected the overcastsky, making it seem even more dangerous.

Kim explained to us about eddies,places where a rock's position combined with the force of the water creates apermanent whirlpool. They are the most dangerous part of the river because theycan suck you in and pull you under. The smallest on the raft, I was convinced Iwould be thrown out and caught in an eddy, my swimming ability irrelevant in thatsituation.

As the raft floated faster I worried even more. I tried to hideit because everyone seemed to be having the time of their lives. I would not letmyself look ahead, instead concentrating on my sister's head in front of me. Attimes, when I was brave enough, I glanced to the right or left for the view, butnot often. I wanted this agony to be over.

I risked looking ahead wheneveryone started yelling. Mountains of water loomed, and as the others screamedin exhilaration, my body froze. I was sure there was a way to bypass thetreacherous waters ahead. My mind raced through Kim's instructions, but I couldnot get my thoughts together. I dug my feet in as tight as I could so most of myweight was in my legs. I paddled faster, intent on obeying every one of Kim'scommands.

As the nose of the raft dove into the first wave, it broke overthe heads of the four people in front. (I was glad I was in back!) Kim yelled tocontinue paddling, and I don't know if I made any difference as we rode waveafter wave, but it kept my mind and body occupied. The raft rocked and pitched inall directions at once; at times it seemed perpendicular to the river. How couldthey be enjoying this?

All of a sudden, the river was calm. I hadsurvived. I wanted to scream, "I did it!" I realized everyone wasshivering except my sister, mom and me, and I silently thanked my dad for makingus rent the wetsuits.

Through the trees, I saw the bus waiting for us. Wefollowed Kim's instructions and grounded the raft. As we boarded the bus, I feltsatisfied I had risen to the challenge of the Snake River.

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