Rafting! My New Love

I have backed off a bit from training for a few weeks in order to nurse an injury and because life is happening, distractions and responsibilities everywhere. But I’m managing to stay active in spite of all of that and September 25th marks my official “jump back into serious training” day. I’m happy to report I am STILL asthma symptom free. The only exception to that is the recent air quality due to the many forest fires in our state right now.  My bronchial tubes have been slightly scratchy but not like they used to be during times like this.  I’m making it through just fine and staying indoors on particularly bad days with few symptoms.  YES!  I have more to report on what I’m learning about controlling these symptoms before they have a chance to surface but for now, it’s adventure time!

Though I’ve backed off a little, I’ve been having fun with leisurely training, if there is such a term.  Riverside State Park is essentially my backyard so trail running and road biking are always on my regular agenda. Every time I’m out there, I have to stop at least once just to marvel at the scenery. I find myself taking pictures and realizing they are the same pictures I’ve captured before. So be it. I have an incredibly beautiful view of the Spokane River any time I want.  Pictures just don’t even begin to really capture it, but here is an idea.

Aerial view of “Bowl and Pitcher,” Spokane River. Part of my regular ride. I know. It’s not fair. 🙂

I call this “The Enchanted Forest” part of the river. You practically expect fairies to appear from behind the trees.

The river has calmed lately, rapids not so rapid. A few weeks ago, I consulted my list, eager to try something new. Some refer to this as their “bucket list.”  Somehow in my mind, assigning “before I DIE” as the impetus for tackling my “I really want to do these things!” list, sort of deflates my tires. (Pun intended).  I rarely cross anything OFF of it, unless I’m not completely thrilled after I’ve tried it.  More often than not, my original instinct in putting it on the list in the first place is correct and I quickly become addicted. So I simply call it “my list.” On this day, I knew exactly what I wanted to charge into next. Whitewater rafting is something I’ve wanted to do for years and until now, just hadn’t made it happen yet.  I wouldn’t say that asthma kept me from it, although it wasn’t very long ago that on a day trip like this, I would have had to use my inhaler a few times even if it didn’t involve high aerobic activity. I made a reservation with a local water adventure company for a friend and myself to go on a full one-day rafting trip. We were heading to Superior, Montana to play on the Clark Fork River!  The day would consist of a two-hour road trip to reach the initial meeting place, a quick rundown of the day from two of our very charismatic guides (who really set the tone for a great day right from the get-go), an entertaining bus ride to the let in area, a thorough safety lesson, meeting our guide and raft mateys for the day, and finally…to the 13’ paddle rafts!  We had five rafts in our group.

Our guide was known as “The Wizard.”  Very laid-back and personable; a bit Zen-like. He wore a great hat which he acquired in his travels to Asia. He essentially moves from one rafting gig to another.  He had just put in a visa application to go to Australia and was hoping to hear back about that soon.  When I listen to stories like that, I find myself wishing I was starting over, now that I know what I know about controlling severe asthma so that I can do what I want to do. But I’m not the kind of person to lament for very long; I like moving forward.  And this just means that I have a lot of catching up to do! I can handle that.

Most of the trip was rather calm, extremely beautiful.  We watched an osprey dive into the water and catch a fish.  That always amazes me. We saw a bald eagle, marveled at the purple/rose-colored cliffs, and basked in the serene and secluded environment that is the river. This is how I meditate. Rafting, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, running, swimming, camping, hiking….it doesn’t matter.  I’m not so great with sitting in one place and focusing my energy on nothing; I’m working on that.  But THIS.  This I can do.  And it doesn’t take long for the stresses of life to literally evaporate from my mind and body.

The front is the best spot!

Soon we hit the easy class II and III rapids!! Perfect for my first time. We bounced and laughed through Fang, Boat Eater, Cliffside, and several more with much scarier names.  We stopped at some diving cliffs for more thrills and then the gang in our boat decided to show off by attempting a “peelout.”  That is, crossing the eddy line back into the current, facing upstream about 45 degrees, with the intention of turning downstream.  (I love learning new languages). We gave it three tries but failed.  But it was sure fun trying!

Here you get a glimpse of our guide with the fun hat in the back. What a ride!!

We stopped for lunch and I have to say I was quite impressed by the fancy schmancy spread that our guides put together for us, including appetizers.  I felt like I was at the Country Club.  Nice work, gentlemen! While eating lunch, I recognized an old friend who was in one of the other boats and we spent some time getting caught up.  How cool is that?!

Check out our guide in the back and how far into the water he is! Maybe the BACK is the best spot….?!

Needless to say, we had a blast.  I can’t wait to raft my own river, or better yet, I’ll add to the adventure by going in a kayak or “daring ducky” which is like a kayak with a short squared up front.  But really, I’m ready for other rivers with bigger rapids.  It’s official; I’m addicted!  Is it spring 2013 yet?

I highly recommend this trip. It’s great for families, small groups or individuals, and there are several companies who offer them.  Well organized and the guides really enhance the day with their antics.  One of them had us believing he was Cuban the entire day and it wasn’t until the bus trip back that he announced that his “accent” was fake and that he is a native.  Hilarious!!

See you on the river!


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