Newbies on the Kootenay

Having been a fan, in my youth, of many a water flume ride, I often wondered if white water rafting was merely a few degrees higher on the dial of the same animal, or an entirely different adventure, not the least because it was off a metal track and in the open outdoors.

I now have my answer.

We dragged ourselves groggily to the meeting location, most of us wearing layers like we’d been instructed. The Kootenay river runs very near the much larger, longer, Columbia, but the Kootenay is home to more sacred Native lands and is said to be the source for some ancient medicines. One by one we lumbered in, and I watched the cousins, some of whom Susanne hadn’t seen since the wedding, greet each other and start to wake up. We read over the liability releases, made sure we had everyone we were waiting for, and piled into the yellow school bus for our 1/2 day trip to the river.

“Cousins on the river,” they shouted like a pre-game warmup cheer, and we rumbled to the rafting site.

We listened to the guides give us our safety instructions, but we were ready on our own accord, coming armed with 5 epi pens in case an evil peanut or honey bee should come at us in one of the rapids. I chatted up the guide at the back of the raft, our conversation repeatedly redirected so that we could “paddle forward,” “left back, right front,” and so on. The Kootenay has dug through a lot of earth over the millennia, and we found our selves in some deep river canyons, limestone cliffs on our right, deep dark soil thick with evergreens off the port. The cousins at the front of the boat were soaked head to toe. Wet cousins do indeeed look like drowned rats.

We hurtled over class 3 rapids like young bucking bronco riders. Twisting alongside the Canadian rockies, we declared the experience thrilling and vowed to take on a more challenging river next summer. Hooray for the river!

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Categories: visiting

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