Saturday, June 6, 2015

River Awareness, or Mercy ?

Columbus Ga was recently shocked with a very tragic loss at the mercy of the Chattahoochee. Now as a former raft-guide-trainee this hit a very ironic emotional spot in my heart.  

I grew up on the Chattahoochee , some of my earliest memories are me & my best friends sneaking out on the rocks in the middle of the night, during low-water ( "low-tide" is frowned upon among raft guides as there are no "tides" at a river -_- , stupid Ikr) . Before they tore down the old damn & created the level 4 white waters. 
I also remember the thrill of rushing back to shore when they released the damn up-river, so that we didn't get swept away by the current. That was dangerous enough as is. So when they added rocks & removed rocks for white-water, I knew it was intense. 

However, when I saw they were accepting trainees to be raft guides for only a one time fee of $25, I signed up immediately. 
I didn't know what to expect, I just knew I wanted to experience the river from a first-person view. 
Training was intense, every time we flipped out the raft you would take in mouthfuls of water. One of the key elements is to remain calm & try not to breath until you're out of the rapid . 
If you have a good raft guide , you're chances of not flipping are highly increased. But there are those runs where everyone just fails. 
I was guiding the raft training once & it flipped, & one of my fellow trainees was holding onto my raft . When guiding only the raft guide is supposed to hold onto the raft & flip it back upright. While he was holding on, he busted his knee. 
It was bad, he needed stitches. After we all got back in the raft we saw he had a deep 2 inch gash on his right knee. Now me being the guide, I couldn't help but feel responsible. I don't ever want to cause anyone pain. I don't ever want to have the responsibility of someone's life in my hands just so they can get a thrill. It was after that trip that I realized, no matter what, you're at the mercy of the river. There is no guarantee that you will make it down safely. The river is very unpredictable & the water flow is Always changing. 
While I support the economy of Columbus growing, personally, I won't be white water rafting anymore just because the number of fatalities on that very stretch.

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