With Nicholas sitting on the porch waiting for a ride, I hurredly threw together some supplies for the camping/whitewater rafting trip we had planned for the weekend. History has taught me that using this method usually ends with you forgetting something very important (like warm clothes). Our plan was to camp out Friday night, raft on Saturday afternoon, and then camp again on Saturday night. So off we went from Calgary en route to Golden, British Columbia.
After some miscommunication, Geoff and I were left at the campsite to get things set up while the others were off looking for each other. We went about starting a fire and getting the beer chilled in the river (the tents were in the vehicle that hadn't arrived yet). About 30 minutes had elapsed when we discovered a lean-to sauna hiding in the bushes. Light bulbs starting going off, so we decided to get the thing going. It took us several tries to transfer the fire from our pit (we had no matches or paper), but we finally succeeded with a little help from OFF Skintastic bug spray. Later that night, we enjoyed a piping hot sauna.
The next day featured the main event: whitewater rafting down the Kicking Horse River. For those that haven't been, you basically have 8 people plus a guide in a raft and then get sent off down the river. Everything was going great for the first half of the journey...we were paddling fairly intensely and the waves were decent. Then we got to the "Lower Canyon."
Just before, we had switched spots in the boat, which meant that I was now on the front right after being third left for the first half. In the front, you get splashed the most and have to set the paddle rythym for those behind you to follow. The first section of the Lower Canyon, little did we know, was the most intense part of the river. It featured class 4 rapids, with two waves, "Double Trouble" and "Town Centre," being the main events.
I really had no idea what to expect. It had been fairly easy up until that point, so I had a false sense of security. We were warned that, "The yelling was going to get louder and the commands more intense," by our guide. It could mean the difference between flipping and not flipping.
If there is one vision that sticks in my mind, it's seeing the wall of water that was "Double Trouble." We went up the wall, then down, then up again, and then down the other side. It was ridiculous, to say the least. One guy fell out and had to be pulled back in before we hit "Town Centre," which was right after. When we hit that, the guy sitting across from me lost his grip and went crashing into my position. For what seemed to be an eternity I could hardly tell which way was up. I looked back and saw the guide sitting parallel to the water, holding on for dear life.
We then stopped for a time, while people were rescued. It was a chance to reflect on, "What the hell just happened?" Apparently we had been really lucky not to flip. In the words of our guide, "I have no ****ing clue how the **** we didn't flip going over that wave." Well said.
The rest of the ride was a cakewalk compared to that one section. I got much more used to the front of the boat and started to actually enjoy the intense paddling. I kept telling myself that the sauna would be the perfect medicine for a day on the river. That it was.