So today was day 1 of my Moab trip. What did I do? Go through three of the biggest rapids in Westwater Canyon with 6 other inexperienced rafters without a guide. We survived. And it was awesome.
Whitewater rafting is amazing. The best though is in a paddleboat where you have to actually listen to the guide in order to not slam head on to a 12 foot slab of rock sticking out of the middle of the river (i.e. Tully River near Cairns, Australia). But today's was pretty good. Probably a 7. Granted, the little guideless experience definitely lifted that number up a bit, but still.
The story? So basically this river is in the middle of nowhere sort of off of I-70 with only two places in 15 miles where you can drive up to the river. It's about 5 miles of floating, and very small rapids, then maybe 5 miles of awesome rapids, and then 6 more miles of floating. If you have every been to real rapids, you know that sometimes the boat can go a bit...squif. So we were going down not so huge a rapid, and the front went up, and I guess the back when under water, and 3 people fell out- my dad, and the 2 guides (we had two guides because one broke a boat, and all the other people were distributed, and he was the only one who wanted to go on a paddle boat as opposed to you having no paddle and the guide having sculling oars). I was in front, and didn't actually realize that anyone had fallen out until after the next rapid. So we were down three, and then someone else started calling out commands. People seemed to be following them, so I did two. So we very quickly decided the best way to go over rapids is straight through the middle. At least you won't flip. So we went through the first one, and it went well. Then me and the other guy in front realized we were sort of missing people.
Apparently while this was happening, the three missing were picked up by the boat behind us, and there was suprise and amaze and screaming that we were still going. We went through the next rapid, and realized we kind of had no real control because we no longer had anyone acting as a rudder. And this was when the Skull rapid came into our view. The person closest to the back ended up as the rudder (apparently the conversation went "You're a Boy Scout, you can do it. Go!") This next rapid is apparently the most dangerous and biggest out of any of the ones on the river. And it was quite a wall of water. So the 7 of us, finally having discovered the power of the rudder, headed straight for the wall, paddling and hoping for the best. We went up, and then down the other side and then the bigger wall came into view. With the raft going up, and lots of water and lots of running into people we finally made it through, and stopped to pick up our lost guides.
Skull rapid is apparently the most dangerous rapid on the river, with a giant hole and then next to it is a place called "Dead Man's Vortex". My Dad of course, after we got back, researched it and found that someone died there a couple of year's ago after the raft flipped and their body came up in Dead Man's Vortex 5 weeks later.
It was a lot of fun to go through the rapids alone and have the guides utterly amazed that we made it through all three without flipping, but the fact that it really is, well really, dangerous.
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