my never-ending quest to push the envelope, I figured my next
challenge would be to tackle whitewater rafting. My trepidation
wasnt what most people would expect.I love to swim,
I love being out on the water and am generally fearless when
boating. What I was frightfully anxious about was the coldness
of the water.
I like my water warm. When I use the word “bracing”
in shocking the goods — that kind of jolt can’t be good for
the old cardiovascular system.
The idea of
capsizing into an icy Montana river, as one can imagine, was not
my idea of a good time. I’m fully convinced that hypothermia can
happen in the dead of summer — especially when the water was
Montana snow about fifteen minutes ago.
to be outfitted for our excursion, the fact that a helmet was
issued didnt faze me. I was sure that rafting companies
have to be careful for insurance reasons and no one wants to play
rock-paper-knoggin out on the river. I was completely calm, in
fact, as the three guides — who could only be described as your
quintessential Dudes — were handing out the gear.
Surely we couldnt be doing anything hazardous with these
young whippersnappers at the helm.
donned the ray-o-sunshine yellow helmet, the deliciously
day-glow orange vest and the darling little waterproof booties.
To top off the ensemble, I chose a bright blue pair of Davids
swimming trunks. I was a near-radioactive thing of beauty.Feeling
my fashion-forward oats, I boarded the van that hauled us to the launching
During the ride as we laughed and kidded with The Dudes — I was
river with spectacular scenery. This was, after all, where
the film A River Runs Though It was shot and Brad Pitt
seemed to like it. Hey! I could work on my tan! Maybe they served
drinks with little umbrellas! This was going to be fun!
underwent an abrupt turn for the real once we reached our destination.
The Dudes got all professional on us. Uh-oh. Listening to the
rapid-fire instructions I suddenly was made aware of several things:
1) The river
was full of crazy big rocks that had to be dodged.
2) Even if I wasnt tossed overboard, I was going to be drenched
in freezing cold water.
3) The darling booties werent for decorative purposes —
they were actually protective gear.
4) I was expected to row (I found this out as a Dude handed me
5) The reason my garments were so bright was so I could be easily
located after being dashed upon the rocks.
I learned how to respond when I was tossed overboard, that I was
to board a raft with only one Dude and five other people that
had never rafted before and that I was suddenly terrified. Great.
Still, I was
here on a fear-conquering mission and – by golly – I was going
in. I held fast to my oar, strode purposefully to the raft and
situated myself on the bench. Our Dude sat at the rear and we
were on our way.
it wasnt so rough. The serene beauty of the canyon was overwhelming.
I actually COULD drag my hand along the water. Dude was once again
relaxed and dude-like and we were yucking it up again. It was
the first big bend of the river. Like a flume ride at an amusement
park (that you could drown on) we were set into action. The floor
of the raft quickly took on freezing cold water. Dude was suddenly
shouting out commands — like a stoned drill sergeant — and we
scurried to follow.
talk was NOT just for insurance purposes! We were oaring for our
lives — and I was pretty darn sure not a single person in our
raft knew what they were doing. It was exhilarating!
a beauty to being scared witless. My mind held only the task at
hand. I had completely put my trust in Dude — the same Dude who
was bragging on his drinking antics just moments before in the
van — because I had no other choice. My clueless comrades-in-oar
were doing the same.
initial rapids, the river became peaceful again and the cheers
of victory went up as oars were double-pumped overhead. Tales
of bravado were excitedly tossed around. I felt as though I was
aboard a vessel with my only friends in the world.
We were a
team that, together, conquered the wild river — and our fears.
Collectively, we couldnt wait for the next rapids.
Bring it on!