I am not totally sure what about river rafting makes me feel panic. I know how to swim. I am used to being in the wild outdoors. I am even fairly familiar with the mechanics of paddling a boat, as I demonstrated during our canoe trip on Salmon Falls Creek. Whatever it is, I had to make a determined effort not to be overwhelmed by the thought of our latest adventure for the month it was in the planning stages.
For the last couple of days before we went on this first river rafting trip, I occasionally allowed myself to mention my anxiety to my husband. Each time, he would smile gently at me and commend my efforts at keeping it under control. And then I would try to distract myself with other things.
When the day arrived, it was harder to stay distracted. I wasn’t much help getting things set up or blowing up rafts. Mostly, I stood around watching it all in what seemed like slow motion. A disaster that was unfolding before my eyes, but I could do nothing to stop. And then the only choice left was to step into the raft.
I was initially told I would need to straddle the balloon-like side of the raft, at which I balked. Then, it turned out that my raft had 5 other people to row, so there really was no good spot for me other than the front center position. Even with my inexperience, I was suspicious that this was not the most relaxing place on the raft, if there is such a place. I asked if I was going to get more wet than anyone and was cheerfully assured I would. However, I would be sitting between my husband and a daughter, so it was the best I could do.
Our guide was a good friend, whom we have been on various adventures with. He really did want me to have fun. The combination of his friendship and experience probably helped me relax more than I would have with an unknown guide.
I didn’t get much exercise on the trip, unless you count screaming, shaking from cold, or being tense from being knocked this way and that on the rapids. This all had to be good for my abs and lung capacity. Like singing. Oh, there was some stress-relief running and bee-swatting on the beach we had lunch at.
Here is a 13 minute video of the rafting trip, which in real time took all afternoon.
Would I go again? Not without some coercing and, again, with just the right people that I felt I could trust to know how to handle the raft and handle my anxieties. Still, I have to admit that just having done it once gives enough familiarity with it all to make it less panic inducing. Now I have some idea of what to expect and how to handle the unexpected, like someone getting knocked overboard. Which did happen, but it wasn’t me. I’m told the main thing to remember is NOT to try to stand up in fast moving water, because your feet can easily get caught in the rocks while the current pulls you down. Maybe, if there is a next time, I will try rowing.