Two weekends ago, I went whitewater rafting with friends. And oh-my-goodness was that a whole lot of fun but also not the best decision I’ve ever made in my life considering that I need to protect my joints.
Prior to our trip, we had to sign the necessary waivers and listen to a safety talk given by our raft guide. It sounds pretty routine but that safety talk was one of the funniest things I’ve ever sat through, mainly because our raft (who used to legitimately be a crackhead but has gotten his life together) was a dead ringer for Spiccoli and even funnier. Highlights of the safety talk included what you should do ‘in the event that you exit the raft in order to take your own personal rafting trip in your life jacket.’ Oh my god.
I realized as we made our way to the boats that hey, you’re actually getting ready to do this for real! And even though we were on a manmade course that was built to be safe (shallow, no undercut rocks, lifeguards, eddys made so that they protected you from the current if you happened to wash into one on your own ‘personal rafting trip courtesy of your life jacket’), it only then dawned on me that hey, you could still get hurt here.
So, I chose a seat in the back of the boat right in front of the raft guide and hoped for the best.
Before heading out into the channel, we practiced paddling as well as ‘getting down’ when the guide told us to- this was what we were to do whenever he yelled get down which he said would be in most of the larger rapids and involved just that- sitting in the bottom of the raft, leaning to the middle, and holding your paddle straight up in the air so that you wouldn’t clock anyone in the head.
The first few strokes were great. We approached our first rapid and all of a sudden I hear, “get down!” I quickly slid to the bottom of the boat as we dropped down about 2 feet. The water splashed up in the boat and sent my gym shorts and underwear…um…up. I had to quickly right the clothes situation before getting back up on my seat. Getting back up into the seat with creaky RA knees when there’s water everywhere was hard. I found that I had better traction if I hooked my foot underneath the seat in front of me- I didn’t slide as much and ironically, this would come in quite handy in just a few minutes.
On the second rapid, we lost one of the people in the front of the boat. No worries, she was fine and we pulled her back in quickly. On the third rapid, I almost lost a contact. We finished that channel and rode the conveyor belt back up and did a second time. Then we moved on to the harder channel.
Now, I had some apprehension going into this. One of my favorite pastimes is sitting at this particular rapid and watching people bite it. So I knew that was a possibility. Paddling towards it, all I wanted to do was say hey, just drop me off and do it without me, but I had no time.
We did the first few rapids perfectly. As we got closer to the spot I was worried about, I heard our raft guide yell ‘get down’ again. I quickly complied. We went down the drop, the raft dipped down in my side at the bottom, my friend on my right slammed into me, and I fell out of the raft. Kind of. Remember that I had my feet hooked! So I am hanging out of the side of this boat in perfect sit-up position surrounded by rocks on all sides. I remember thinking that I know I need to protect my hands and my neck but all I could think about was the fact that EVERYONE CAN SEE MY BUTT RIGHT NOW. The raft guide stood up in the rapid, grabbed my life packet by the shoulders, and yanked me back in.
We did the same channel one more time and I managed to stay in. Then it was over. I was SO sore afterwards- you know how we have a hard time with stiffness when we stay in the same position too long? Imagine staying in the same position for an hour and a half while actively clenching your muscles in that position to keep yourself in place. OH MY GOD.
I had a hard time getting out of the boat!
I wasn’t as terribly sore the next day as I thought I’d be but I was totally bruised on one whole side of my body. Seriously, I looked like I’d been beat up!
Coming up next: DC Trip with the ACR