I don’t know how to swim. I used to, when I was a kid. I could zip from one end of the pool to the other and even knew how to do some fancy flips under the water. Somehow, this skill left me as I grew up and nowadays, I’m lucky if I can make it about 5 or 10 strokes before slowly sinking further and further into a spluttering, flailing mess. I never go into the deep end anymore unless I’m clinging to the pool edge, because it would have to end in a dramatic rescue attempt to save my life.
None of this occurred to me when I was drafted by my group of friends to plan a trip white water rafting.
I booked a cabin, booked the rafting tickets, and Friday after work we loaded up two cars and headed down to Georgia. I drove the four-hour trip down and entertained everyone with my slick driving skills going around sharp turns. At least, from all of the gasping and shrieking, they sounded fairly entertained and impressed.
Walking into the cabin in the dark, we were temporarily scared by the giant deer peering at us, but it turned out to just be an oversized embroidered deer rug. I wish I had pictures to show you, but my trusty iPhone/camera died and since we were in the wilderness, I didn’t feel the pressing urge to be in communication with the outside world. So in lieu of photos, Sarah has drawn you some pretty accurate pictures to guide your imagination.
We woke up on the morning of our rafting trip to a beautiful day. The sun was out and about and we were excited for a perfect trip. But that quickly faded as the rain moved in…to stay. The temperatures dropped quickly and our protective gear became doubly useful to add a little warmth.
After reaching the river let-in, we went through a safety lesson that was much too short for my liking and hopped in the raft. I think we all knew it would be an interesting trip when, about 20 feet down the river, our guide announced that he had forgotten some safety gear. We paddled to a clearing on the river bank and held on to trees for dear life to keep us from floating down the river while our guide hopped out and abandoned us. Thankfully, we were able to hold on for his return or it would be an entirely different desperate survival experience that we would be writing about.
We floated down the river for a while listening to our guide tell quirky anecdotes to the old couple we had somehow found ourselves paired with. Mentally going over all my CPR classes, just in case they turned out to suffer from weak hearts, we hit our first rapid. The front four of us in the raft managed to get a good rhythm going as we navigated our way. The old couple could care less. They went at their own pace.
We didn’t really have any other issues until Chrissy threw her paddle into the water. Now, until this morning we were not aware Chrissy could not swim. She informed us over breakfast as she explained her awesome ‘get into the fetal position and try and float’ tactic. We had some concern.
The paddle was done being with Chrissy, apparently. She claims it jumped from her hands and smacked her on the face on it’s way out. All the rest of us saw was a friend throwing her self from the boat to get a piece of plastic in water she could not swim.
As I watched her go over the edge my lifeguard training kicked in. I grabbed the only part of Chrissy I could see. Her underwear. I would like to believe the monster wedgie I gave her saved her life.
We ended the trip by not dying. It was time to celebrate our victory! We got into the car and headed to the local Piggly Wiggly. Picking up butter and hot chocolate we headed back to our cabin for grilling, games and hot tub. We probably stayed up a little too late.