Thursday, May 20, 2010

A self rescue

Cinco De Mayo this year was the most incredible day of my life. For the rest of my life, I will celebrate each new one I attain as a gift of life. The events which I have been describing in the last several posts all occurred on the Dolores River in Utah on Wednesday, May 5th.

I escaped from being trapped underneath the overturned boat and survived my passage down the powerful rapids. G and Jy managed to shove the upside-down boat free of the rock but its sudden departure, still-capsized, down the rapids left them stranded on the rock that had upset us, twenty feet from shore. (Right: Our boat gets away, wrong-side up, never a good thing.)

Jy was unable to crawl up the rock and slipped backwards into the water. He disappeared down the rapids.

Another of our boats was trapped on submerged rocks forty feet behind the standing rock where G was. It was a hell of a mess.

G walked around the rock, obviously hesitant to go into the river and be swept downstream. From the shore where I was, I gripped a stout sapling branch in one hand and waded into rushing water up to my chest. (Left: Jy and G are in extremis.)

Steadying myself on my anchor of the branch, I extended myself fully, my free hand open, my back leg on the bottom near the shore but my forward leg dangling in the deep water, and urged G to run off the back side of the rock, jump upstream as far as he could and try to catch my free hand as the current carried him down the rapids past me. The extension of my body bridged about half of the gap from shore to rock.

G went to the top of the rock, turned and ran off its back. He made a tremendous leap and splashed upriver into the water. (Right: Jy was gone and G contemplates going into the river as well. Behind him, J, H and C are in distress on their boat.)

He stood up, in waist high water. His astonishing jump had carried him past the swift current into the calmer water nearer the shore.

G had executed a self-rescue. At about the same time, Jy showed up from down river, wet and shivering but safe and unharmed.

Now we had to go rescue the boat in the middle of the river, find our boat, and get the third boat down below this hellacious No-Name Rapids. The day was far from done. (Right: Carefree days on the Dolores River.)

Downstream, B was running after A and yelling at her not to go into the water as she chased after a paddle in the river from G's boat. Since she is a Boston Qualifier and he is not, she was pretending not to hear him as she outdistanced him and then plunged into the river.

No comments: