Monday, June 28, 2010

A River Runs Through It

Sunday night we returned from our three-day rafting trip. I feel sick but I think it's just the result of getting beat up by the river. I never could quite decide if I was having a good time, I was just happy to get through it. We had a big group of 5 guides, 2 trainees, and sixteen paid customers. We all managed to live through a harrowing swim test in a fast moving current, 22 miles of Class V and IV rapids, numerous people falling out of their boat, poison oak exposure, hard camping mattresses, four unplanned rock climbing sessions which were a result of trying to rescue people who had fallen out of their boat. I ran through the entire range of human emotions in three days. Let me explain.

First, the people. Boat 1 held "The Company." The boss thought this would be a good team building exercise. He thought very wrong and admitted the same on the bus ride back to the rafting center. Day 1 started with a swim test in a local park. The river was moving fast. The trainee guide that demonstrated looked tired but not very disturbed. Well, we all came out disturbed. They told us to take a breath in the troughs and obviously, not the waves which were hitting our faces with incredible force and making us swallow lots of water.

I was so panicked getting into the river to start the test my breathing was fast and shallow, not the best for aerobic work. The current was so fast, I couldn't time when I was getting to the trough to breathe and I couldn't take a calm, yogaesque breath. I managed to swim out of the current to the land point we were supposed to. Several people were not so lucky. Three of "The Company" participants dropped out from the trip. And four were left.

We were bussed up a windy mountain road to a trail head where we would hike 2.5 miles to an island were the boats and lunch were waiting. The best friend of the company boss couldn't handle a 20 mile an hour windy drive and barfed into the trash can. Fun, fun.

And there were two older guys with gray hair who seriously looked like twins. They were making comments about the breasts of one of the women on the trip and cussing like crazy, being losers and jerks. I was pissed. I thought this trip was full of the world's lamest people. My husband and I were the first to the island off the trail so I told the guide captain that the comments from "the older guys" were making me uncomfortable. Could he please speak to them about this? He said he would.

Members of "The Company" fell out of their boat about five times each. By comparison, no one in our boat (six people) ever fell out on any rapid run. So, some Company members were transferred to the supply boats piloted by guides with large oars meaning additional people with paddles were not necessary to move the boat along. In addition, Company folks declined to run any of the three Class V runs.

Some reference on Class V: Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is recommended but may be difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts.

It turns out the older gray haired guys were placed in our boat. I got to know them really well. And I'm left today really missing them. Ironic, huh? They are from Kansas, best friends since what they called eighth grade and I called puberty. Tom is a podiatrist, divorced, estranged from his two daughters, a Methodist who married in the Catholic Church (just like me!!!) but he never was confirmed in the Catholic Church. Paul lives with his second wife in Oklahoma. He told us he tragically, accidentally shot his own daughter in the neck. She was paralyzed and lived two years before dying. Talk about heartbreaking. I wanted to ask if his daughter's death was the catalyst for his divorce and cried thinking about this, but I couldn't bring myself to ask this question. They were very nice to me and complimented my ability to get through the trip.

And the third boat held "The Family" which contained a divorced father with his three kids; two in college and one about 15. The dad was kinda down on marriage. They had a big, huge guy in their boat who is Scottish but raised in the US, so no cool accent. A very nice guy.

Second, the rafting/camping. There was a lot more camping than rafting which could be boring at times. With only a couple cool people to talk to, somebody should have told me to bring a book. Some people spent lots of time napping, others helped out with loading/unloading boats at camp, cooking, preparing lunch, etc. So we had some hard workers and some lazy bums. I can't totally blame the lazy bums since, who wants to work on your vacation? The food was really good and we ate every four hours it seemed. Lots of food. We argued with the guides that this trip was totally doable in two days, not three. They said that's true but no side trips of hiking, water sliding could be done. That sounded good to me.

Third, my near-death experience. The group stopped for lunch, a water slide (a not very steep waterfall into the river), and a hike up a granite wall. I wasn't too jazzed about the water slide. It didn't look that interesting to me but it looked like everyone was doing it so I climbed up the granite. It looked real easy, the seven people in front of me slid down, plunked into the water, rose up to the surface, and swam to shore. NO PROBLEM.

So, I got into position, and pushed off into the slide. I went down for all of three seconds, took a breath before hitting the water so I could breathe out in the water to take another breath coming up. That's not what happened.

I hit the water, came up briefly and got sucked back down. I bobbed up once and got sucked down again. I panicked thinking my life vest had some how come undone because why the heck was I not floating to the surface??? By the fifth time I was sucked down, when I came up I was yelling, "HELP! HELP!" and wondering why none of the jerk guides were getting into the water to rescue me. Then I saw a flash of orange and realized that they had thrown out a rope to pull me back in. Grabbing the rope was fairly easy and they pulled me in.

I was freaked out and scared witless. One of the female guides took me by the hand and led me to a seat on the shore. They asked me if I was (physically) OK and once I coughed out some water, I was really physically OK. My husband asked me if I was OK and then told me he was going on the slide again. I was dumbfounded he wasn't sitting with me given what I had been through. Then the guides said last call for the slide and if you were going on the hike to get ready. I was in no shape to go on the hike but given my husband's attitude towards me, he was getting ready to leave me. And that's when the crap hit the fan.

In a nutshell, I told him that I felt like I have a husband but not a friend. All the obligation without the support. DH told me he supports me. Where's the evidence, I said? After tears, an argument, and his missed hiking opportunity, I was so thankful it was the last day of the trip and I couldn't wait to get the heck out of dodge.

There was one more Class V rapid to do in the afternoon. I told my boat guide that there was no way I was doing it, my confidence in myself and my husband was shot to hell. Guides said, "no problem. You don't have to anything you're not comfortable doing." My husband couldn't believe I was backing out. I told him to stop thinking about himself all the time. So, I stayed behind to rejoin the boat after the Class V run. Lots of other shitty things happened in the afternoon, but I'll spare you the details.

In summary, I felt like I paid $800 to get beat up. Sadly, I was able to finally confirm what I'd long suspected... my husband thinks about himself first and doesn't respect my feelings of helplessness and fear. The trip plunged me into a depressive state.

However, there is one piece of good infertility news! I got my period twelve hours after the trip ended. Talk about convenient. My husband thinks I'm upset about not getting pregnant. BIG FAT NO. I've accepted my infertility. It's a reality.

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