By the time our rafting instructor wrapped up the safety demonstration, I was starting to sweat. Log jams? Possibly getting stuck in the river with rapids pouring over your back? FLIPPING THE RAFT?!
“These are all just worst case scenarios,” our chipper guide said.
My day began with bison burgers. Hulking patties of meat wrapped in lettuce and topped with veggies, with side salads and the token Nanaimo cookie. I don’t even like meat, but I’ll eat a bison for the sake of adventure.
Our tour was with Hydra River Guides on the Kicking Horse River through the Kicking Horse Canyon in British Columbia. The river and canyon get their names from an incident that happened to geologist, surgeon, and explorer James Hector who traveled with the Palliser Expedition in the mid 1800s. One day, his horse reared up and kicked him square in the chest, knocking him unconscious and breaking his ribs. His guides thought he was dead, until they began digging his grave and he arose from his coffin.
Not a bad story, eh?
Anyway, Corbin and I got suited up in our ultra-sexy, tight wetsuits and were thrown into a raft with two other Canadians, some Irish folks and a guide named Jan. We started off nice and slow, with a leisurely float down the river while Jan talked about the area and pointed out points of interest, like the creepy hoodoo trees being carved out in the riverbank by the wind. The natives were afraid of them, and went through great lengths to avoid the area because they believed them to be evil spirits.
The first half of the tour was fairly relaxed. We synched up our paddle strokes and got a little wet, getting to know one another and chatting up Jan. I asked him if it were true that his town of Golden was made up of a population of 70% male. He said “yes, maybe more” and I jumped ship and started sprinting toward my new home.
Just kidding. Maybe someday.
But the guides are great at getting rafters pumped up for class 4 rapids and being all “you guys better be prepared for this!” Jan warned that those of us on the left side of the boat would be coming right up against a vicious rapid known as the Terminator Hole…of course, exactly where I was seated. By the time we started slamming into the river, I was grinning from ear to ear.
Shotgun, Rollercoaster, Rooster Tail, Portage, Maneater, House Rock, Last Waltz, Twin Towers…each rapid is named for its own individual personality, apparently with the purpose of terrifying the pants off of rafters. Except for Rooster Tail. Not really sure what’s up with that one.
We were literally soaking in frigid waters due to the glacial melt from the mountains, but it didn’t matter one bit. I haven’t laughed that hard in ages, even if I did look like an idiot fumbling to hold the center line whenever I feared the raft would tip over. It didn’t, not even close.
Not bad for a first-time whitewater rafting experience. By the way ladies, the guides are smokin’ hot. Go Hydra!