Down by the Creek, Walking on Water
Large bodies of water scare and intrigue me. I don’t swim well. Totally my own fault. I can float on my back for a good while, paddle myself out of some dangerous situations, but were I to fall in the ocean, I would go under, drown in very little time.
Water is powerful.
Because I fear it, I respect it. Because I know its power, the danger it possesses, I never treat it with carelessness.
More irony. I really enjoy most boating. I love being on larger motor boats, racing on the surface of a lake. I have kayaked down smaller rivers and rafted larger ones. I often experience a near paralyzing fear just before any of these events. It is an act of will to calm myself, insist on participating.
The first time I kayaked, I fell in the water at least 20 times. I used a boat similar to the one pictured. Turning the boat downstream was difficult for me at first and whenever I would try to enter an eddy, I would turn the boat too late, water would come over the edge and I would go over. Also, any abrupt turn would cast me off as well. At first, each fall was horrifying as I was certain I would be swept away to my death. After realizing this river was not going to kill me, I really enjoyed the experience. Still, every time it was suggested I go again, I was fearful.
This week, I took the boys to Alpine, Wyoming to do some rafting on the Snake River. Sheryl’s family was going and though Sheryl could not attend, I thought it would be fantastic fun for the boys. Plus, rafting always seems less dangerous in my head. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and set up camp. Hotdogs were roasted, smores were made and bad sleep was had (old man Carty has a bad lower back). I really like Sheryl’s family. Having known them for over 20 years, I consider them to be my family as well. Her siblings are my siblings and those that are married have picked exceptional spouses that fit in with the rest of us. They accept me, strangeness and all. It was very pleasant and wonderful to spend a few days with them
On Monday morning we started prepping the raft. Lots of pumping and laughing and being insanely silly. My boys were very excited, asking question after question, to the point that everyone was getting a bit annoyed. They have a hard time being patient. They are twelve after all. The wait was long for them.
Dar (brother in law, pictured inserting the tube into the boat), is a fantastic river guide. He is also very good and instructing the rest of us on what we need to do and expect on the river. Our safety is his prime concern. After that, he just wants everyone to enjoy their experience.
When we got to the river, we were given our boat assignments. Destry, Dylan and I were to be in front. We were tube punchers, responsible for making sure the bow of the boat went into the wave making it harder for us to tip over. You can imagine the increase in my apprehension. I would be required to tackle this river head on, lowering my body and throwing my face right into the water. The boys were thrilled at the concept.
As usual, my fear lessens after the first fast water. We successfully punched through the first wave, I was soaked, boys were thrilled and I was fine. Dar let Dylan exit the boat and swim along side the raft in calmer places. Dylan commented on the speed of the water, saying he was surprised by the current.
We had so much fun. Each rapid becoming more thrilling, larger and more powerful. Some soaking us, others just impressing us with their raw power.
At one point we pulled the boat to shore and Dar, my boys and Mark (Sherly’s youngest brother) walked upstream to swim a rapid where an underwater waterfall causes water to bubble to the surface. Champagne, it is called. It was frightening to watch my boys swim out into the river, then be sucked down through a rocky rapid, then swim fast towards the eddy line. Even after he was remotely safe, Destry looked panicked as the current of the eddy took him past the boat. Dylan climbed out of the river, removing his life jacket so he could breathe again. They were never in too much danger, but both of them were first hand witnesses to the power of water. I think their attitude changed from that moment. They looked at the river differently.
As soon as we finished our run, the boys wanted to go again. I on the other hand, was ready for some food and a nap.