On the weekend we went whitewater rafting with my work people outside of Boston Bar in the Fraser Canyon. I took a bunch of photos mostly of co-workers and such, and the rafting resort took a bunch of pictures of us rafting (link from the photo above.)
I was expecting the entire rafting experience to be fun, a little exciting maybe, but mostly tame due to the amount of tourists that take such trips. We suited up on Saturday afternoon, pulling on wetsuits and PFDs and bright red helmet before piling onto the school bus. The school bus brought back memories of class trips to the beach on hot days in the summer – no air conditioning, those little sliding windows you could hang half out of if you tried, and trying to get the seat at the back of the bus because it was the best seat in the place. Our group grabbed the entire back half of the bus because we were just that cool.
The school bus took us up the narrow, dusty, winding dirt road to a higher part of the river where we were to raft. Our group was split into two separate rafts, and Adam and I picked the Aussie to be our guide. With us were Phil, Steve, Michelle (Phil’s daughter) and Vadim.
Our first run was a short jaunt down a section of river that opened up into a lake. We were told to all jump out of the raft at that point, so that our guide could see how we handled the water. It was cold – I was later told around 10 degrees – and it felt a little bit like my heart stopped when I hit the lake. We then had to haul ourselves back into the boat (most of us had help and got hauled, which was good, since I don’t think I could have hauled myself in.) The guide went through the basics of what we needed to do and what kind of orders he would give us, and then we then slowly floated down the lake to a pullout area where we hauled the raft back onto land.
We had to drive past a gigantic, dangerous log jam to a spot where we could put the rafts back into the river. This was the section of river that we were going to raft twice. The rapids were at class 4 due to a wet spring and lots of runoff. The waves were bigger than any I’ve ever had to canoe or otherwise boat through, that’s for sure. And the water was most definitely white.
Our first run was lots of fun, I was paddling in the front of the raft for most of it and I had a blast. The waves were huge and tossed us around like we were nothing, but we came out at the end of the run tired and happy and ready for a second try. They bussed us back up to where we put in and gave us snacks and juice to keep us going.
The second run was far more insane. At one point, Michelle and I were both sitting on the bow of the raft, holding on to the ropes with both hands and getting giant waves in the face. We went up over a rock and then dipped down into the hole on the far side of the rock, and the boat up-ended. Our guide, sitting at the back of the boat, was launched to the front. Adam and Phil, in the middle of the boat, were launched to the front. Vadim was launched to somewhere outside the boat and into the rapids. Michelle and I were both launched straight down into the water, with the raft coming up directly over our heads.
The moment of launching into the water was a bit crazy – one second I was sitting on the front of the boat, and in the next instant I was underwater. It was like there was literally no time in between those two moments.
I don’t know what went through Michelle’s mind, but my thought patterns went something like this:
PANIC Okay I’m under the boat there’s a boat over my head DON’T PANIC I can feel it there wonder which way the surface is I have to get out from under the boat there’s no air here just lots of water and I can’t see anything I think I’ll just pull myself along the bottom of the boat it has to end somewhere and this direction works hey look I’m on the surface holy crap it’s COLD!! There’s Adam holding out the end of a paddle for me to grab I think I can reach it hey there’s another paddle in the water next to me I should grab that before it floats away there we go now I’ll just toss it in the boat and now they can pull me in all right I’m back in the boat YAY!
Next thing I heard was “Where’s Vadim?” – Michelle had already been pulled back into the raft. We looked out and there was Vadim sitting in the middle of another group’s raft. We sidled up alongside them and he jumped back over to our raft, and we were a complete crew once more.
The rest of the ride was rough, far rougher than the first time we had run the same stretch of whitewater. I think our line was a bit different than our first run. I climbed back on the front for a while, because I figured I should get over any potential fear of falling out of the raft again by inviting it.
At any rate, Adam had a moment of panic when he couldn’t find me and thought I had floated far away, I had a moment of panic when I was suddenly, unexpectedly under a boat in rapids, and all of us had an awesome, fantastic time.
Later that night I got up onstage with the guy who was playing guitar and singing for the rafters, and did a couple of songs with him. It was fun, I’ve really missed doing that too.
All in all, a great weekend.