Our second time traversing the stream, I was leading the family parade. I took a momentary glance back at my beloved family and hit rapid that dropped in level. It turned me completely upside down. I tumbled out of my tube which continued downstream without me. I was in the middle of the thickest part of the rapids, and they continued to drag me downstream. You must wear water shoes or sneakers when tubing to protect your feet if you should hit a rock or tumble out of your tube.
I desperately tried to right myself and stop tumbling. Fear penetrated my mind as the icy water blanketed my skin. When I finally gripped a rock at a more shallow section, I looked like a sheet hung outside on a blustery day. I fought to gain supremacy, to wrench my legs free from the whitewater’s grip. I wanted to brace my feet on downstream rocks. But the powerful whitewater knocked me loose. I tried again to gain control of my position in midstream to be able to look around. When I could finally crouch in the knee-deep whitewater, clinging to a rock, I noticed that I was alone. The once crowded stream had been vacated just for me. All the tubers had climbed to the banks, including my family. They watched in terror, the twins tugging at my husband’s suit and pointing at me.
I was smack dab in the middle of the stream, in the middle of the whitewater. My legs trembled uncontrollably as I tried to maintain my position. My heart was pounding louder than the rapids. No tube. No way to cross the stream to the bank. Rocks everywhere. I had no choice. I had to seek calmer water downstream. I sat in the water, feet downstream as instructed in our introduction to tubing talk on the bus ride to the stream and released my grip on the rock.
I shot downstream, bouncing rump and hands off rock and rapids. The stream planed out a little and I attempted to reach the quieter bank but became trapped in an eddy. A kind tuber perched on a boulder out over the stream reached out a hand and pulled me to the bank. God bless him. He had my tube.
And God blessed us. We continued to trudge up that path to the stream head about eight times. Most times my husband struggled with three tubes as our son and the twins could only manage to lug that blasted tube up the path once. But we ALL maintained death grips on the ropes around the inner tubes once we were on the water to be sure we kept the tube rims up and us on.