–Sky. Water. Sky. Blue. . . More blue.
–What in the world? Where am I? …Oh, relax; you are just under the raft. At least when your body surfaces, it is likely you will be near the raft. Crap! Remember the oars, the last thing I want is an oar to the nose, nothing could hurt more at this point. Speaking of hurting what the hell is wrong with my leg? Ok. Stop thinking so much….where are my sunglasses? And who knew a life jacket could get ripped off so quickly.
–Sky, rocks, more sky, good…now, swim like hell.
I had many things going through my mind after I was thrown out of the raft on the biggest rapid of the river. Thrown isn’t the best description, from what I remember and what I was told, catapulted is more accurate. Thanks to bad weather and side canyon floods, the water was running two thousand cfs (cubic feet per second!) more than any of us had anticipated. While swimming back to the raft, seeing the looks on the faces of my friends that were new to the whole river thing made me laugh. This is why I love this; it is why we do this every year, as often as we can.
Then it hit me.
–I know that right before we came in to this rapid I looked at the map. Speaking of which where is the map?…back on track, I noticed that after the really big rapid, there is a small break and right around the bend, yes that one there that I am nearing all too fast, is a chain of “smaller” rapids.
Apparently this realization occurred to one of my best friends at the same time. He shouted something to the extent of “Hurry up! There are more rapids!” This then spurred my “virgin” river friends into panic mode.
–It is ok though, I can see them. I am breathing, things could be much worse. All of those years of water polo, swim teams, swimming in lakes and rivers, and I am struggling now? Why on earth am I so tired…and seriously what is going on with my leg? Am I getting closer? –They can’t move, if the boat gets as far down the canyon as I am they won’t get a good line on the rapids and won’t stop. Keep swimming… where are the eddies?
While swimming furiously I hear many things; water, people shouting, but mostly water, not the water around me, but the infernal roar of what is to come. Anyone who has been on a river of substantial size knows what I am referring to; that low, churning roar that sends chills up your spine and engages as much adrenaline as possible before it even comes in to view.
–I am getting closer, I know it. Casey! Casey! You can reach me; I know it……
Yes –OUCH! OUCH! That hurts, there are a lot of pointed, sharp edges in this raft, and I have been scraped across most of them…wait…I am in. I am back in the raft! Oh sweet relief, I am exhausted!
–Get ready, here come the other rapids.
After our emergence from the final rapids the discussion was all about my experience in the water. It was at that time, that the adrenaline began to recede and the pain came on full force. I was grateful to be in the boat with a beer, but in more pain that I had been in, in a long time. A knot on my forehead, a bruise on my leg swollen to size of a grape fruit, uncountable scratches and bruises all over. We love the river. The excitement, freedom, relaxation with friends, bonds grow strong. One can learn a lot about themselves on the river, their strengths physically and mentally. You can really tune into you, into yourself.
No matter what life throws at me, or where for that matter, I know that I can make it, honesty with oneself, staying motivated and assessing any situation. I can and did, swim against the current. I may come out of it battered and bruised, but I made it through to see another day.
–Sand…squish it in your toes. Feel the warmth, finally solid ground, the comforting smell of camp fire. My clothes are dry, oh, so nice! The pain…well, let me crack the top of this brew and that will take care of it. Oh, I couldn’t be happier.
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