I was reminded this weekend just how valuable life is, and just how easily it can be taken away.
I went for what is always considered a relaxing river float this weekend, and let me tell you after doing this many times without problems this time it was a completely different story. Within the first ten minutes of heading out my tube was popped and there I was under water heading down stream, moving fast and hitting rock after rock. Thankfully I am a fighter and don’t give up easily. I was finally able to grab onto some branches and hold on. The crew I went with was then passing me. I was able to swim to their boat, in doing so they were able to get to the side to stop and help me out. This is where more problems occurred. The current was very strong and while I was holding on to the rope that surrounds the boat and being pulled by the water one of the ones holding on to the branches didn’t let go and was pulled into the water. There were three of them in the boat and one went after the other. When they left the boat, the boat, me and the one inside started heading down stream.
Adrenaline can do so much for a person. It took me a minute or two to get my footing while being dragged under the boat. I was finally able to stand up and stop the boat and catch my breath for a minute. At this point I wasn’t sure what was going on with the other two. I stood there with the boat in hand waiting. Not sure exactly what I was going to do, but couldn’t move till I knew the other two were okay. As I stood there waiting I saw more floaters come down stream and hollard to them to see if they saw anyone walking or holding on to the side. They said they saw no one. This wasn’t helping me. They were followed by more floaters and when asked they said they saw two people up on shore. This was the news I wanted. Now that I knew those two were okay I could take care of myself and the other person in the boat.
At this point our only choice was to finish up this float. There was no way to turn back or climb onto shore and stop. I was able to hop into the boat and off we went. This year the water is lower and slower. This should make for a fun float. We managed to do pretty well just the two of us. After more than half way through the float we were able to catch up to a few people that had passed us earlier. Finally tied onto others my stress level lowers a bit. At this point one of the guys we tied on with was willing to switch boats and do the rowing as long as he had beer. I was more than okay with this. Now I get to relax even more. Still all the while wondering if the other made it back to the camp site okay.
Finally we come to the finish and a ton of people come running to the boat to help us out. It was great to see everyone and get some assistance getting out of the boat, because right before we finished of course I got this massive charlie horse in my leg and couldn’t stand up. Finally up and out of the boat and on shore. The first two I see are the two we lost at the beginning. So glad to see they made it back safely and in one piece. Their journey was a rough one. They were both covered in massive mosquito bites and cuts. Still standing and glad to see us. They had just called 911 because no one had seen us. All is well. We all made it safe and sound back to the camp site. A very long, exhausting, and somewhat painful day, but ended all right.
Next year this event will come around again. I will be better prepared and smarter about what I do.