Saturday, June 5, 2010

A lot to say

I sure had a lot to say about the third day of my recent Bucket Trip down the Dolores River in Utah, when our boat capsized in the rapids. A friend who reads my posts said, "You tend to go on and on."

What, half a dozen or so posts concerning a single minute on (in?) the river is going on too long? Well, maybe.

But since I returned, I have related the story of my minute underneath the overturned boat to a few select friends, and have had the good fortune of receiving in return two excellent commentaries about travails on the river. The first one is from J, a running buddy of mine.

J was tubing on the Snake River many years ago, and because he was much younger and less wise, he wasn't wearing a life jacket. He can't say for sure, but he might have had one or two.

The rushing river took him straight into a large rock, where the current swirled around and around in front of the standing impediment creating a fierce mini-maelstrom. Perhaps you have never truly been on (in?) a river; but I can say from close experience that the incredible power of the water is both unrelenting and unforgiving. It can kill you like that.

The whirling well of water drove J down and he could feel the inner tube he was gripping being torn from his hands. An inner tube has buoyancy and is likely to return to the surface at some point whereas a human body might stay submerged within the center of a deep, rotating pool of water for a long time.

J held on for dear life as he was swallowed up. A few seconds later the inner tube was ejected from the whirlpool and discharged downstream, with J still clinging to it.

To this day J credits his death grip on the inner tube's handles with saving his life. In a subsequent post I'll relate what I learned from a river guide friend of mine.

Incidentally, J was practically the only person who gave me unbridled support after I ascended to the presidency (short lived) of my former running club last year and vicious board infighting broke out. He watched my back when I stood up after my last board meeting and I was, um, closely confronted by four belligerent young alpha male board members who had been disruptive throughout the meeting.


Danielle said...

I am consistently glad that the rivers that I do my research on are lazy Florida rivers. The only thing to watch out for are the alligators!

Anne said...

I think there was a lot of value in your protracted storytelling. People tend to underestimate the dangers of rafting. My sister saw a young woman in her party die just as you almost did and neither of us has gone on such a trip since.

Sunshine said...

Well, obviously you had a lot to say.... a tramatic near-death experience that you certainly didn't mean to sign up for.
As a person who goes on and on about every marathon and half marathon, it didn't occur to me to criticise.
And perhaps your "going on" about it may save someone else from who knows what.

Glad to know the rest of your life will be some amount of time longer!
Happy running.