Perusing the Pennsylvania
rain soaks through my clothes even before we carry our raft down to
the river. With gray clouds showing no mercy, I know this rain will
be a constant addition to my whitewater adventure.
mist blurs the peaks of the Allegheny Mountains, my heart pounds as I fear being
sucked into the churning waters or the rocks that jutt out at us. A Kingfisher
swoops down in front of my raft as we set off to overtake the mighty Lower Youghiogheny
River. I breathe in the moist woody aroma of the air, calming -- this cant
be too bad.
making it through numerous class I and II rapids, our guide, Jess, hastily warns
us about the impending Railroad Rapid and the infamous Railroad Rock. We brace
ourselves against the raft. Jess yells, "Paddle one
we are not quick or strong enough as the unforgiving current sweeps us into the
rapid and it pins us against Railroad Rock. The water starts to rush in, my eyes
grow wide in disbelief, my breath quickens. I have no idea what we can do to free
ourselves from this watery prison.
orders us all to the front of the raft so we could try to force it around the
rock. With our adrenaline burning through our veins, we quickly and carefully
scramble to fit in the front section. Nothing. My heart is now in the pit of my
stomach. Jess then stands up and hooks his rope onto the side of the raft and
bounces on the end. The stubborn piece of thick rubber will not budge. We are
all trying to hang on in the front when Jess decides on a final solution: He tells
us to step out of the raft onto the rock.
five of us manage to pull ourselves up onto the rock. We huddle close together
as we see our raft become completely submerged under the water. The current seems
to be flowing faster now. If we can't get the raft free, I have no idea how we
can make it to safety.
jumps off the raft into the frigid water trying to pull the raft away from the
rock. I have a horrible vision of him losing his grip and being carried down stream
in the river's clutches. Our eyes are only glued on him in a burning anticipation.
I notice that my teeth are chattering, from fear or pain-I can't tell. And suddenly,
just as quickly as the river griped us in its clutches, it sets the raft free.
We hurridly retake our places and help Jess back into his seat.
thought I would feel relief after we made it back into the raft, but I notice
my white knuckles from my grip on the paddle. The river calms. It's amazing how
it can turn from a bubbling chaos to a calm sheet of smooth glass. I feel stronger
from overcoming this obstacle and facing my fear. I feel as though I could overtake
any rapid or rock that stands in my way.
feeling only lasts for a few moments, however. It is quickly shattered when we
hit Riversend rock and are pinned again.