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I almost died today

September 12th, 2007

No, really. I wish I was kidding. Hell I wish I was exaggerating.

But no.

I almost died today.

We get to the white water rafting place. We get our wet suits, booties, life jackets, helmets. I buy a strap for my good shades. They bus us to the beginning of the run. Group in to crews of 5 (me, my predecessor, the area tech, the guy from a nearby store, Team Portland, fuck yeah, oh, and my boss’ boss). There’s a quick safety lecture. We do some practice paddling in the air.

Then a class 4 rapids. Triple rapids.

To be helpful, from Wikipedia: Class 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill Level: Whitewater Experience).

Raft gets stuck sideways at a steep lateral angle. On a rock on the lip of the first drop.

The guide (hot chick, makes the terror palatable), looks around and tells us to move to the higher side and forward. Next thing I know, I’m in the water.

I can’t swim, hell I don’t float.

I went in on river left, I end up huddling on a rock river right. The area tech thinks we were in the water for two minutes. It’s possible. There was no conscious thought but fortunately I knew I should nottry to breathe when the light was green. I remember feeling, if not thinking: “I’m never going to get out of this water.”

My feet kept hitting bottom and my subconscious wanted to stand up. Solid ground, right?

No. Bad idea. Some other part of me, my lizard brain maybe, said to hold on to the fucking raft. The rapids turn to the left and I end up skirting the rocks on the bank. At this point the water slows and it’s time to get the fuck to dryish land. I think it took two tries but I finally end up on a rock sticking out of the water.

And there I stayed, deciding I was fucking over white water rafting.

Boss’ boss nowhere to be seen. Tech and nearby store guy are back in the raft, predecessor is also hugging the shore. Guide is in another raft behind us (of course she is, she knows how to ditch a raft, unlike us chumps).

Finally get all the rafts through and everyone out of the water. Everyone gets back in their rafts (boss’ boss had already been picked up by the time I got to shore). We coast to where we have to portage some waterfalls. Somewhere along the rock I decide to keep going. Predecessor is done. He’s pale, he’s shaky and he’s adamant he’s not getting back in that fucking boat. On the drive back we figured out he had to have gone into the water head first and been trapped under the boat for a while. He was about twenty feet further downriver from where I was when he landed.

None of us that “swam” the rapids find any fault with him. Although we all wish he’d stayed.

I think the course was about 2.5 hours. For most of that every time the nose dipped I’d involuntarily take a deep breath. Later on, once the fear hormones had dissipated area tech asks the guide what happened and why it was so fucking terrifying, his exact words. Then she pointed out that it was, indeed, a triple rapid and we weren’t in the boat for two of them.

Fucking sucks.

I’m really looking forward to doing some nice, boring screw tightening and lubricating tomorrow.

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