Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Into the Raging Water - Righting the Raft

There we were...floating on the Colorado River with one raft upside down, looking for a place to pull over. Just like being on a road trip when you really need to find a rest area. Thankfully, about a mile from Serpentine rapid there was the perfect spot on the right side to pull over and assess the damage.

First, the people. Everyone looked great and aside from some very scary moments in the water they were all okay. The sun was shining, we were standing on solid ground and somehow life seemed good...no...life was great!

Then to the business of righting the raft and seeing what was still attached.

Before we were released on the river to begin our journey, we all had to watch a series of videos showing us how to care for ourselves on the trip; filter drinking water, groover rules (in my case, gruber rules), satellite phone operations, and...how to right a flipped raft. (This must happen fairly often to rafters.) Despite 12, mostly adult-aged viewers...only one remembered the correct direction to flip a raft regarding the location of the shore and people...Brainiac. Thank goodness he spoke up. Only nineteen and starting college any day now, Brainianc, is always thinking...asking questions...and apparently he actually remembers the information he gathers.

Just in case you were wondering, when a raft flips, pretty much everything that isn't in a waterproof metal container gets soaking wet and sometimes things in waterproof metal containers get wet too. We completely unloaded the raft and opened every thing to pore out the water.  This raft carried our kitchen: 6-burner cook top; cook set with all pots, pans, dishes, silverware; spices; food staples like cooking oil; lunch box that was loaded every night for the next day's lunch; and three days worth of meals.

Good news, all of our kitchen stuff was still attached to the raft, as was all of the food stuff. Whew!  Pretty soon the shore looked like we were holding a garage sale. There were about a dozen soaked books we would have loved to offer at a good price rather than cart down river for the remainder of the trip.

Their "river guide" book that was supposed to help them navigate the rapids, was at the bottom of the river...just as well. At the bottom there was also a lovely set of cots and a sun umbrella.

While we let the sun dry the raft contents, we split up and two rafts headed less than a mile down the river to Shinumo Creek...the closest thing to a water park for the kids. It was an easy hike through a creek bed to a small and very warm waterfall.

But progress still had to be made so in short order all the rafts were loaded and ready to forge down the river. Lots of nice, easy rapids the rest of the day but the storm clouds were gathering, as they always seemed to do late in the afternoon.

We made one last stop to hike to yet another waterfall...it's just like Hawaii...waterfalls everywhere...only you must be willing to hike up canyon walls! Lots of very jagged boulders with no clear path to the magical waterfall. I was tired and not an enthusiastic climber when we crossed paths with a group we'd been seeing since our trek through Crystal rapid. They were assisting their 80-year-old grandma down the canyon wall with her two walking sticks. I felt like a major wimp. Despite what should have been a boost to my sense of adventure, I never made it to the waterfall at Elves Chasm. And the clouds were darkening. I was just hoping to make it to happy hour...somewhere in the world it was definitely happy hour. But first a campsite must be found...while rowing down the river in a thunderstorm. I know I was thinking...when would it get easier?

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