September 18, 2014

A Life Goal: Whitewater Rafting

Recently as I was rummaging through an old journal from high school, I came across a piece of paper was labeled "Life Goals". One of the things listed on this piece of paper was to go whitewater rafting. On July 12th, I checked white water rafting off of my list.

Rewind: One summer when I was in high school my friend Jenn called me up and asked if I wanted to go rafting with her, her mom (Julie), and her mom's friend Sue. I had always wanted to rafting and thought this would be the perfect opportunity. We all met up and I quickly learned that we weren't going to be rafting but we were going to be floating in inner tubes down the Puyallup River.

Jenn and I shared a double tube and we both wore life jackets. Julie and Sue were in single tubes and they did not have life jackets on. Sue had floated the river before, so we felt pretty comfortable and safe having her as our guide.

We hadn't floated very far when the water suddenly became very fast moving. As we came around a bend in the river, we couldn't help but notice a fallen tree blocking most of the river. Somehow unbeknownst to me, Jenn ended up in the water headed straight for the tree. Her mom freaked out and jumped in after her. As Julie was swimming toward her daughter she yelled at me to get out of the double tube. Why? I don't know but I did what I was told. 

I watched my friend and her mom both get sucked underneath the water and tree and pop up on the other side. They continued on down the river a ways without their tubes.

I recall watching Sue still sitting in her tube go right over the top of the downed tree, how she managed to do that is beyond me.

Before I knew it I had reached the tree. I grabbed onto the tree and held on for dear life but my strength was no match for the force of the current. I was quickly pulled under. It felt like I was under the water forever. Eventually though my life jacket pulled me to the surface, my lungs very much welcomed the air.

I floated down the river for awhile (without a tube) before catching up to Sue. She had me grab on to her tube and we found a place that we could exit the river. Before too long we met back up with Jenn and her mom. Jenn and I both lost our right flip flop. We hopped back up the trail on one foot-- there were rusty cans and blackberry bushes growing everywhere.

Eventually we found a place that was shallow enough for us to wade to the other side of the river (this was a scary things to do after almost drowning). Once we reached the other side of the river we headed toward the road and hitch hiked to get a ride back to our car.

Fast Forward: As you can probably imagine my goal of whitewater rafting was kind of put on hold for many years due to my fear of drowning. Since this year has been focused on overcoming fears I decided that it was time to go whitewater rafting, accomplish a goal and overcome a fear.

I was very scared to go whitewater rafting. In fact I was so scared I hardly slept the night before, I kept dreaming of drowning.

As we were driving to go whitewater rafting I called to tell my family what we were doing. Most of my family members have been whitewater rafting before and they tried to reassure me that everything would be okay.

Andy & I

I was SO scared climbing into that raft. Before too long though I found myself laughing and having a great time. I was even brave enough to try riding the bull. Riding the bull is when you sit on the front of the raft and try to stay sitting up as you go over some very large rapid. I was pounded with about 100 gallons of water. As you may have guessed, the bull won.

Would I go rafting again? You bet!

** We rafted class 1-3 rapids**