Sunbaked, Sore, and Satisfied

OK. So I admit I was scared. I am scared of a lot of things, so in those instances I do my best to jump in head-first; I am what you might call a studious thrill-seeker! I was probably a little quiet during my second rafting trip down the south fork of the American River yesterday. I was content to enjoy the banter going on around me. I laughed at jokes and enjoyed the beautiful California foothills scenery. The wind was hot. The sun, hotter. The river was deliciously cold.

About halfway through the trip, a rapid bounced me out of the raft. I remembered my training: nose and toes up! “Swimmer’s position,” as it is known, is meant to keep your head up and your feet from entangling in underwater hazards, which can push your face underwater. (Just because your body becomes entangled and you stop moving downstream, doesn’t mean the river stops rushing on. This is how it’s possible to drown in a shallow river.) Anyway, I went over some rocks, scraped my leg a little, and experienced first-hand how the river sucks you down underwater and pummels you from above. But, I popped out of that gripping current after a short moment and got back into the raft with help from my friends. I’m glad I didn’t drop my paddle or lose my hat!

Justin went over at the same time, and soon he was pulled into another raft full of companions, then moved back to his place behind me in our raft. They were some exciting minutes, but I kept my cool and didn’t get scared. When it was all over, I felt wonderfully alive. Afterward, I paid better attention to how my weight was distributed, keeping it more over my feet and thus prepared to fall into the raft, rather than out if it came to it. (It sounds dumb when I write it, but that is the idea—to stay in the raft.)

I think it’s fascinating that all the various river currents and eddies have names and a whole science of hydraulics behind them, just as the different types of ocean tides and waves do. But I can’t write about any of that with expertise.

After the Sara Overboard incident, I was able to relax a little. The harder rapids appear near the end of the run, so that’s nice. We got to practice on the easy ones first. There is so much to pay attention to all at once. I watched a raft ahead of us almost lose a man who was sitting in the exact position that our guide, Dock, just finished saying was the risky spot. That’s where nonosays  was sitting and she was warned. Seeing that guy nearly fall off minutes before we entered the rapid was trippy. It gave me new respect for Dock, and NoNo managed to stay in the boat, although the river tried to do the same to her.

I saw other rafts with smallish kids on them. The kids were riding, and not paddling, I think. But, darn, they were little! I don’t think I’d take my boys out there anytime soon. It’s a fantastic, empowering experience. And Lucas and Asher can have it when they’re physically up to the challenge and no sooner.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be out in the world surrounded by beauty and beautiful people. My thanks to Andrew and jaleenafied  for making this happen for newbies like me, and to Dock and Daisy (and Andrew) for being great guides. I enjoyed my shipmates immensely. It’s so good to be alive!

4 Responses to “Sunbaked, Sore, and Satisfied”

  • kittiliscious
    July 20, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Yikes! You got bounced! I’m glad the experience didn’t put you off of rafting, and I’m especially glad you didn’t get hurt.

    I “swam” the rapid on purpose last time, and it still scared the crap out of me.


  • dakini_grl
    July 20, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Wow, what an adventure! Amazing. I also love the way you write about the way it felt. xo


  • dakini_grl
    July 20, 2009 at 7:58 pm


    You guys are bad asses. Wow!


  • kittiliscious
    July 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Later, when lots of people were jumping off high rocks into the river, I decided I had been brave enough for one day and sat my ass in the raft. 🙂


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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

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