Thursday, April 23, 2009

White Water Rafting

I did it! One of the things I always thought I wanted to do was go white water rafting. On April 18th, Penny and I went down the Salt River on a day trip with Wilderness Aware. Here we are getting suited up! I can't seem to get this photo turned the right way. So turn your head to the left. I DID NOT keep the hat on. I was had brought it to protect me from sunburn, but they made us where helmets and then I had the whole sunbonnet effect gong on, with the brim pushed around my face. Penny, for some reason, tried to talk me into leaving it on, but I was not going to look that stupid, plus I couldn't see past the silly rim. That is lots of layers there. And they adjust the life jackets so tight you can hardly breath. It's because if you fall in, they grab them and use them to hoist you back in the boat.

All right, I got it right side up and now can't get rid of the sideways photo. Sorry.
Ok and then we have a photo of Penny. Missing a little of the top of her head. She couldn't stand how tight the life jacket was and kept undoing the top of it when she could.

There were 71 of us that day, in 11 boats. Penny and I were in a raft with 4 other ladies near our age and our guide Glen. We really liked Glen. I don't know if it was just that he had white hair and had been a guide for 31 years, but he seemed a little calmer than some of the crazy kids and inspired confidence.

What kind of life is being a guide though? They live for the couple of months they are on the Salt, in tents. No running water, outhouses, no electricity. Ugh, is what we thought. And he goes from river to river through the summer. He teaches at a couple of schools, how to be a guide. I guess you have to really love what you are doing and not mind not having any kind of security, health insurance or 401K.

Because Glen was the trip leader, we brought up the rear and he kind of oversaw the whole trip. There was one class 4 rapid, several 3's, 2's and ones. We actively participated and were instructed what commands he would give us and how to row, etc. This photo is of our very first rapid. There is more of a drop than it looks and it's called kiss the rock, because that's just about what you do. The River actually takes a 90 degree turn to the left right there.

It was a beautiful day and we had very congenial company. The other ladies got us going on a spirited version of "Proud Mary" and we all had to stop and look at the one lady when she broke into her Tina Turner mode. It was a hoot. We had some beautiful scenery. I fell once, into the bottom of the boat, thank goodness and not out of the boat. They give you a whole safety talk about what to do if you fall in and how to rescue yourself and others. One lady, in a boat right ahead of us, did fall in on the class 4 rapid. I found it rather anxiety producing. I think because I deal with people who get hurt everyday, I don't have this unrealistic view that everything is going to be ok. Instead, I was very fearful that she was going to be hurt or killed. She was neither, and was fine, but I didn't like the way the anxiety made me feel.

We were pretty much wet from the waist down all day. The water was only 45 degrees, but because it was a nice day, it really wasn't too bad. They made us a nice fajita lunch at the camp where all the guides live. I bet they get sick of it. They make the exact same lunch every day they have a tour. They have it down to a science, but the poor guides do everything, safety lecture, sign you in, guide you down the river, cook lunch, serve it up, clean it up and at the end of the day, drag all the rafts up hill and on top of a dilapidated school bus. Then drive you 10 miles back up river to where you started, collect all the equipment back up again. I really think they earn the best tip you are able to give.

This Saturday is the last day of their season this year on the Salt and then they are all going away until next year. I had a great time and I'm glad I did it. I would love to go down the Grand Canyon on a raft, just because I've always wanted to, but I don't think I am much of a thrill seeker and likely won't seek it out other than that. I have to say, it wasn't really very rough, it always looks like it is in photos, but it wasn't .


Cynthia said...

Looks like it was a great day and some perfect weather. Glad you had fun.

Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed your trip and that it was such a perfect day for that activity!