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Missoula, Montana, United States
On August 13th 2010

Friday, September 9, 2011

White Water Rafting

One of the things that I love about Montana is how easy it is to get out and play.  Some of our friends had organized a day on the river to do a little whitewater rafting.  With two rafts, two inflatable duckies, and a solid crew of people, we were off.

Although I was very excited about a sunny day on the river, I must admit I was very nervous as well.  This would be my first time whitewater rafting since my spinal cord injury.  I had no idea what it would be like if I got dumped out of the boat in the middle of rapids, but there was only one way to find out. 

We decided that the best way for me to go would be to team up with my buddy Ryan in a tandem ducky.  A ducky is like an inflatable kayak that has a back rest for both people in the boat.  Although it is easier to tip a ducky compared to a raft, the ducky provided the trunk support that I would need.  Ryan is also a kayaker, so I knew that I could trust his judgment on the water.  So after putting our life vests on and getting the boats down to the river, we were headed down stream.

With all four boats filled with smiles, we began to make our way through each section of rapids.  It’s amazing how much bigger the rapids are when you are right down in the water.  As we crashed into each set of waves I began to get more confident with the stability of the ducky.  Ryan informed me that we had one section to worry about and its name is tumbleweed.

He began to explain that if we stayed to the left we would probably make it through, and if we went to the right we had about a fifty fifty chance of staying in the boat.  As we both contemplated what would be the better route, we decided that attacking from the right would be a lot more fun. 

With the Go Pro camera in hand, we entered tumbleweed.  I remember looking down into the massive wave and thinking, “There is no way I am going to stay in the boat”.  Sure enough, we crashed into the wave and in I went. 

The current took me under and all I could do was keep a firm grip on my camera and hold my breath.  I tumbled under the water over and over again and couldn’t believe how long it was taking for me to reach the surface.  Without the use of my legs I felt pretty hopeless. Thankfully I had a good life vest on that brought me back up to get a breath of air.   

I was so disoriented that I didn’t know up from down.  As I made my way through the rest of the rapids I’m pretty sure I choked down about a gallon of water.  Things finally started to calm down when I saw one of the rafts just downstream waiting to grab me out of the water.   

They pulled me onto their boat and I could finally catch my breath.  I haven’t been this scared since before my accident and I have to say, it felt amazing.  These types of outdoor adventures are what I lived for, now I’m back in Montana doing the same old thing.  It doesn’t get any better.

This was one of my favorite days in Montana.  We had good weather, great friends, and solid thrills.  There wasn’t a bad mood in sight.  I would like to say thanks to everyone that was involved.  This day would not have been possible without everyones help.  I will definitely remember this day forever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38WwWQvFWRY  -  This is a link for the video of Ryan and I rafting and getting dumped into the rapids.


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