Have you ever had a raft-gasm?
So I'm in the middle of doing my Whitewater Commercial guide training with Kumsheen rafting (based in Lytton, BC). The past 5 days (7 more days to go of guide training - back at it starting Monday plus another 2 day SRT course a couple weeks after that) have been very cool along with enlightening. Our instructors have been exceptional. Not looking at becoming a guide - I just want the training and on the water time in a semi-controlled environment.
So Day 5 (this past Friday) we were on a medium sized tributary of the Fraser River close to Boston Bar, BC called the Nahatlatch River which was flowing at about 2300 CFS. We did 2 runs - the first one was from the Lake down to the take out, the section was slightly shorter as we elected to put in below the two most gnarly rapids (Rose Garden - a Class 3+ to 4- and the Meat Grinder - a Solid 4, some might say 4+) as we didn't much time left in the day to the same take out. We had two boats - A 16 foot AIRE Raft set up for a paddle team with one guide training instructor, and 4 crew - each of us rotating being the captain. The other 16 foot AIRE raft was set up with an oar frame with one of us rowing and another guide training instructor coaching you if needed. The section we were doing below the most gnarly rapids is VERY continuous Class 3-3+. Lots of big waves, and a few holes, about 3-4 of them were potential boat eaters that we saw.
Anyways, I was on the oar boat rowing and the paddle crew ahead of us went through a big hole that stopped them but they got through somehow (couldn't completely watch them as I was also focusing on what I was doing). I was in a bad position and the hole was coming up hard on me as it was mid rapid. I had the wrong angle, and I blew an oar stroke and whamo we were into one of the boat eating holes - I prefer to call it an "ASS-hole." Immediately the hole may tagged us sideways and I thought we were going over. Mary (my instructor) and I both immediately high sided left. Her rowing with a paddle as hard as they could, and me trying to use the left oar like it was a paddle to push us out side ways. We were thrashed around pretty good but I could feel the grip of the hole letting us go and wham we were back in business. Got back in the seat, put the right oar, which had come out of the oar lock and was hanging by the tether, back into he oar lock and continued on.
The feeling in my head after getting through was several emotions all going at once - exhilaration, excitement, perhaps a small amount of anxiety, and perhaps some kind of thanks for the reward of being still upright from the river gods, all at once. We fought through and it was one of the best feelings I have had in a long time. It was the truest feeling of feeling like you're actually living. I guess you could call it a raft-gasm? lol
Anyways - it also helped me understand this R2-ing thing a bit more - the reward of fighting through as a team (even though I'm still dead set on getting a cataraft, etc.).
15' AIRE Wave Destroyer - MadCatr Frame - Sawyer MXS oars w/Duramax blades