|Whitewater rapids here we come!
“Who wants to jump off a cliff into the New River?” Seth asked our whitewater rafting family crew as we came around the next bend in the river in West Virginia.
“Cliff?!” I turned to my husband behind me in the raft. “Did he say ‘to jump off a cliff’”? I screeched.
“It’s a huge boulder, really,” Seth assured me as the pale pink sandstone cliff came into view and we saw our other rafts pull over to the bank.
As I gazed up from the water, I told my husband, “It looks like a cliff to me.”
Some mothers have problems when you combine certain words, like “jumping off a cliff” when it comes to her children. Yet my children scampered up the huge boulder with the rest of the rafters.
Once we all left the rafts, the guides pulled the rafts back into the swift moving New River and floated downstream.
“Wait!” I shouted after Seth.
“Just jump off the boulder and swim to the raft!” He shouted back to me.
I was the only one left on the beach. Everyone else was on top of the boulder jumping into the current of the river and swimming toward their rafts.
“C’mon, Vic,” my husband called down.
Grudgingly, I climbed up the boulder and lay flat to peer over the lip at the tannin-colored water 30 feet below.
“Hurry, Mom,” my children called from the safety of the raft.
No one was paddling, yet the raft was gaining distance from the boulder. I had to jump or forfeit the picnic lunch which was next on the agenda. After a morning of digging the paddle into a cauldron of whitewater, I was starving. With my heart pounding in my head, probably because of the tight vest, I decided to bless myself and depend on that vest to keep me from drowning. The shriek that escaped from my lips as I jumped from the boulder frightened the birds from the trees.
Once in the water, I struggled to catch up to our raft and found I couldn’t pull myself over the huge tube. With the assistance of Seth, I flopped into the bottom of the raft like a drowned pelican.
“When’s lunch,” I gasped to Seth.
“Right after the Double Z,” he said with a smile.
As I struggled to my position on the tube edge and tucked my sneakers under it, I thought again how odd to actually name rapids.
Lunch was a welcomed break to the day, and for the first time, my children ate everything included in the “boxed” lunch provided by Appalachian Whitewater Outfitters.
As we plied our paddles that afternoon at the command of Seth, through many classifications of rapids from ripples to hydraulics, classes I to V, we came up to the rapids the guides called “the bloody nose hole,” an undercut at Millers Folly Rapids.
We were almost finished with our exhilarating ride on the New River, and my children had remained in the raft during deep hydraulics and high level rapids on the river because of my continued shouting to shove their sneakered feet under the huge tube. Just when I thought I could stop hyperventilating, Seth had one more question to ask my children.