We spent our family reunion a few years ago on the banks of Colorado’s Arkansas River. Each time rafters passed by, we’d hoot and holler from our deck. My brother Eric, the photographer, captured the action. And there was lots of it!
Yep, I’ve braved that mighty river once upon a time. As a member of a Mature Active Women’s group (MAW’s) we set off one day on a river rafting adventure. Lining up and signing in we asked for a Class 1 experience. (They call this the Granny Tour.) We asked about helmets, but our guide assured us we wouldn’t be needing them.
It started quite tame. There’s nothing more beautiful than rafting calm water with picturesque canyons looming above you. There were seven of us snuggled together including a young teen and her Dad. That girl complained from start to finish — loudly and often.
But it didn’t take long before we were too busy to notice. Our calm float had quickly turned into a churning rapid. Our guide yelled commands. We plunged our paddles and battled the waves. It was thrilling. It was fast. We got wet.
Then, everything changed. We couldn’t avoid it. Our craft shoved itself up on the back of a very big boulder and the force of the water threatened to topple us.
“Get out on the rock,” yelled our guide. “One at a time. Hurry up!”
Considering the alternative, it seemed smarter to be stranded with a whiny teenager. So out we climbed as water pummeled the raft and our guide tried to keep it from flipping. We huddled close together on that rock and wondered, what now?
Passing rafters saw our plight and shouted they could pick someone up. We all looked at the girl but she wouldn’t budge.
We attracted quite an audience. Cars on the road above tooted and waved. People gathered along the edge. Fellow rafters promised to send help. It was humorous and a little humiliating. How would this play in the papers? “Mature Active Women Stranded in Class One Water. Rescue Required.”
Finally help arrived. They told us to keep our feet up and pointed downstream. Then they threw us a rope and advised, “Let the current carry you to the side.”
Guess who went first? Nope, she still wouldn’t budge.
That water was cold! And the current more forceful than I’d expected. But we powered on through it like mountain mamas in an episode of Extreme Outdoors.
In the end, we did lay claim to a successful bus ride back to our cars!
And we learned a lot from our unexpected adventure:
- Rapids look rougher down in the drink than up on the road
- Don’t fight the current — let it lead you gradually to shore
- There’s no shame in abandoning ship
- And, most importantly of all — weed out the whiners before they get in the boat!