We paddled our yellow raft down the cold Kern River, Ben, Aiden, Evan and I. The smooth strokes through the freezing water were relatively coordinated, and our path wasn’t a complete zig zag. Aiden and Evan sat in the back, steering. Ben and I sat in the front, supposedly moving us forward. We looked to the left, and saw Alex, Sara, Conor and Gabe paddling their raft gracefully along. Moving in a straight line. They looked over at us, and saw us struggling to move forward, and struggling even harder to not hit the banks of the river.
Ok, Ben, I said. Ben, you and I, we gotta keep moving, keep paddling. Aiden, Evan, you two just gotta get us to the middle of the river. Just get us there and we can have wiggle room. Just do it, please?
They agree, reluctantly, to do work. Before long, the four of us are cruising right along, making good time, with no potential crash areas in sight.
And then BOOM. We hit something, a rock I think. I couldn’t tell, I was disorientated. Up, down, up? I thought we were going the other way... And then I realized we were going down the river backwards, and heading straight into the rapids, unable to see ahead of us.
What do we do? Ben yelled in my ear.
I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know! I yelled back.
Paddle! Aiden screams desperately, so we paddle.
Aiden, Evan, turn us around! Do it do it do it! I screamed.
They paddled as hard and fast as they could, while we were tossed mercilessly around in our little boat. The water poured in over the sides, into our raft, and Ben nearly fell out as we hit a large rock, but I dove to the other side of our little bench and pulled him back to the relative safety of our boat.
Evan and Aiden finally turned us around, so instead of being pushed blindly through the water, we could see where our fates lay.
Paddle guys, paddle! Try to get around the rocks on the left, those look like they’d hurt, I ordered.
They paddled, I paddled, we paddled as a team. We missed the rocks on the left, and swerved out of the way of rocks looming on the right. All four of us were breathing sighs of relief until we hear Ben.
Oh shit! Oh shit Oh shit! We’re gonna die! No way we’re gonna make it!
And then we see it, a row of rocks, unavoidable, lined up in front of us. And then we’re all copying Ben’s words, and I’m pretty sure we all believed them.
Our puny yellow raft hit the rocks, we were all holding on to each other, grasping all the life we could find. We flip like a coin, over, and over through the air. It can’t have been more than five seconds, because soon we were underwater. We popped up, amazed.
Alive? Alive! Dude! We’re freaking alive! That was awesome! Dude! Let’s do it again! We rescue our boat, pull it ashore, and we truly are invincible.