GiftTree has done it again!! Since the 2011 epic rafting trip was such a wild success, GiftTree decided to treat us to another great summer event! It shall henceforth be dubbed “The Epic Rafting Trip of 2012 (Where no one died, but a few made valiant attempts),” otherwise known as “TERTO2012WNODBAFMVA” Just rolls off the tongue…
This year I knew what to expect–it was no big deal. I was a pro. Class IV and V?! Child’s play! I could do this with my eyes closed. I spent the week leading up to the trip encouraging everyone else to go–telling them it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys with a flask of whiskey. “NO ONE ended up in the water last year,” I told them. (Okay, so maybe there was one or two people…) “We had a KID with us last year! Come on–you can do it,” I boasted. I mean, come on–if I survived then anyone can do it. (Insert ominous music here.)
This year GiftTree decided to one-up their efforts from last year and rented a party bus to drive us to and from. We all arrived at the office around 7:10 AM, clutching our coffees, energy drinks, or other choice beverages, some of us still wiping the sleep from our eyes. We were promptly herded onto the bus and not wasting any time “TERTO2012WNODBAFMVA” began! The ride up is a bit of a blur for me, and I’m fairly certain I was in and out of comatose for most of the 2 hour drive. I gathered this based on the pool of drool staining my left shoulder as we filed off the bus and into the parking lot for Wet Planet Whitewater Center and were promptly assaulted by a bright, beautiful and sunny day. I donned my sun glasses and stood with my fellow co-workers, milling about, as we discussed politics and and the various fashion statements that wetsuits made. It wasn’t long before a bright eyed and far too chipper (I am not a morning person, if you haven’t gathered yet) man began instructing us on how to make a wetsuit look good. We stood in line to collect our booties and suits then trudged into the dressing room area to wiggle into the freshly cleaned and still a bit damp second skins. Then it was back through the line to acquire our PFD (Personal Floatation Device) and helmet. This time I made sure to ask several people how I looked, remembering last year’s helmet debacle, in which I wore my helmet backwards for most of the trip till our guide calmly and quietly asked me if I knew my helmet was backwards–to which my response was something along the lines of “grumblegrumblegrumble I did not realize grumblegrumblegrumble.”
I was still thinking about the right and wrong ways to wear ones helmet when we were told to “load up!” It was about this time, as we climbed the steps to the old school bus that would take us to our launch site, that I felt the first twinge of nerves. It seems that things were moving so much faster this year. I had no time to contemplate the meaning of life or run through a mental check list of things I would have included in my will, had I written one…Great, now I don’t even have time to regret my procrastination! Even the short bus ride to the river seemed to go faster this year. Before I knew what was happening, we were unloading from the bus, which did NOT smell of dirty gym socks and old text books this year, and we were each handed a death-dealer weapon, otherwise known as an oar. I clutched my oar as we broke into groups of 6 and laid claim to a raft. We were run through a quick list of do’s and for-the-love-of-god-do-not’s before we were instructed to heave the raft up and then we were marching down to the water. The twinge that had been gnawing at my stomach moved up to my chest to nibble on my gooey innards as we drew nearer and nearer to the water, the roar growing ever louder. And then, there it was–The River. I had forgotten just how overwhelming it was to try to climb into a bucking raft in a class V (maybe it was a class IV, but it felt like a class VI to me anyway) rapid. I had also forgotten just how awkward and uncoordinated I was. I swayed the wrong way, almost went head-first into the water, got my foot caught in a rope and finally face-planted in the bottom of the boat before I scrambled into a seated position not even sure if I was in my designated spot. Too late now, as we were shot off into the rapids and were commanded to row. I had officially started off better this year than last year, since I wasn’t cowering at the bottom of the raft with my eyes squeeze closed for the first 5 minutes and yet I STILL DO NOT REMEMBER ANYTHING FROM THOSE FIRST FEW MINUTES!!
Our raft made it safely down the first set of rapids, even with our out-of-sync rowing (you know who you were!) and we hung out waiting for the other rafts to catch up. I started to think of this as time for me to catch my breath and regroup, maybe look around at the amazing nature surrounding us, that is until a water fight was declared and I was a causality of war. I was so busy plotting my revenge on IT (which reminds me, I still owe you guys…)that I did not realize just how long we’d been waiting for the last two rafts to make it down and join us. Man, I wonder if they chickened….wait, was that an oar that just floated by?! The missing rafts came shortly after and no one appeared to be missing. Phew! We all re-grouped and started off again, crashing through a few more rapids before coming across one of our sister rafts as they pulled someone from the water. My brain took a short vacation as I tried to process what I was seeing. I mean, people don’t REALLY fall out–do they?! Before I could pull my thoughts together we skimmed by another raft as they too tugged another drenched person into their raft. Oh dear god, we’re all going to die. Our guide reassured me that everyone made it back into a boat and this was confirmed as we all met at a large swim hole to assess the damages. As I looked around to make sure we really weren’t missing anyone our guide directed us to watch a raft coming in hot, and directly at us. They are going to smash into us!! Noooo!!! I was not paying much attention to our guide at this point, instead looking over to see how deep the water was and plotting how I was going to lug my big ol’ booty back into the boat, when my ears perked as he started to laugh. I figured the raft was almost upon us and as I looked up to see death barreling into us I was surprised as the other rafts guide dug his oar deep into the water causing the raft to catapult it’s occupants over the side. It appears we were all going in the drink at some point today.
The next stop was a concrete bridge, where we were given the opportunity to jump. I had learned my lesson last year and decided to just stay in the boat and watch as all the other brave people took their turns. I watched as one after another clambered up onto the ledge and jumped the 20 feet into the frigid water below, including one amazing 6 year old boy who rocked that jump like no one else. Yep, you heard me–a 6 year old boy was far more brave than me.
The rest of the trip passed with little “excitement.” No one else toppled out, no one tried to commit harakiri and my blood pressure started to come back down to earth. Aside from the occasional water fight, we were able to enjoy the amazing sites and play a little “Is that a deer or a stick?” Bonus points to the rafts that spotted the beaver in it’s den. The trip ended all too soon, and we were once again lugging the rafts up a ramp and loading them onto the trailer. We made our way back down to Wet Planet Whitewater Center were we went in reverse to strip off our PFDs, helmets (mine was still on the correct way!), wetsuits and booties. After viewing all the super fantastic photos that were snapped of us along the way (puffy cheeks was a good look for you!) we were treated to a delicious BBQ and as a special treat Scott Poole of Live Wire Radio, who had accompanied us, read a poem he had written about our rafting adventure.
All in all this was once again an amazing company event that everyone will remember for years to come, especially those that tried to take a trip down the river sans a raft. We are so fortunate to work for a company that has the ability to treat us to these amazing outings and I think I speak for everyone who went when I say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!
Scott Poole of Live Wire! Radio in Portland, OR attended this event with us – check out his poem about the experience here!