A day on the whitewater

The target was painted on my back halfway through the van ride to the river. Not, you know, once we got on the boat or anything. Nope. The teasing started IN THE FRIGGIN VAN.

Apparently, I was asking too many questions. How was I supposed to know there was a limit to the number of questions I could ask?? I reached it before we even made it to the water.

How big of a step up is Class IV whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork of the American river compared to Class III on the Truckee?

What’s the best river for exciting rafting?

This bridge is really the tallest in California? Do they allow bungee jumping off of it?

I was so excited! I couldn’t help it! When our soon-to-be rafting guide Jeff told me I’d reached my question quota for the day, I was crushed. Well, for about a minute.

Pssst, Sarah, ask him how long it takes to become a rafting guide!

Am I really asking too many questions?

Are we there yet?

Once we were on the river, I tried to cool it, but it seems my face is a little too expressive to hide the fact that I have something to say. The guide laughed and told me to go ahead. I asked him what kind of shoes he was wearing. You know, for future reference on later rafting trips. He told me, but then asked what kind of shoes I was wearing. Mesh tennis shoes, I said. “What about the bottoms?” he asked, leaning forward.

“Pretty much just regular tennis shoe soles,” I replied, inspecting them as I spoke.

“Can I see?”

I was probably flattered that a river rafting veteran with 9+ years guiding experience was interested in my shoes. I had been genuinely curious about his, so it wasn’t all that surprising he was interested in mine. I should’ve known better.

In a flash he’d sprung forward and his hand was on my life jacket, pushing me out of the boat! My eyes rolled back to stare in horror at the ice-cold water beneath me, and my survival instincts kicked in.

I grabbed his wrist. If I went, he was coming with me. Luckily, he didn’t particularly want to get wet either and let me go.

It ended up being the guide of the other boat who got me — hooked me with his paddle and pulled me right in as my so-called best friend cheered him on.

Needless to say, I made sure that so-called best friend toppled in right after me.

The churning rapids tugged at my knees. The man and woman in the first row were immersed to their waists, at least — but I didn’t care about them. Arms outstretched and locked onto the side tube, I was fully prepared to flee to the back of the raft. I stared up at Jeff, waiting for the cue to panic. Our guide just looked forward, occasionally dipping his paddle into the water to keep the boat in place at the base of the small waterfall.

The water level rose, and I heard nervous laughs behind me. I kept staring at Jeff.

Make a joke, and I will relax. Tell me to move, and I will move. Make a worried face, and I will panic. My eyes stayed locked on Jeff.

My cue never came. We surfed the rapid for a minute or so, then broke free and continued downriver. Jeff didn’t say a word about it — apparently submerging half  the boat is par for the course on Class IV rapids.

Not my group, not the company we rafted with, but the same river and rapids. I picked this one because it’s a nice, short preview and I was amused by the use of the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack. My three girlfriends and I went with W.E.T. River Trips. Awesome time at a great price, highly recommend!

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