Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 05 - A time you thought about ending your own life.

Haha, yeah. Because that's an appropriate topic for a public blog. However, since I've blown off the past two challenge-posts I will tell about a time I thought I was going to die. Well, one of a few times when I thought I was going to die. Sorry to those of you who already know this story.

About two weeks before Derek and I got married, we decided to go kayaking for the very first time. I know - right? Stupid, stupid plan.

Anyway, Derek and I went kayaking with my brother, David, and an experienced kayaker friend whose name I can't remember so we're gonna call him Pete. This was David's first time kayaking too. You see how this is getting set-up for major badness?

Pete got us ready to go in our kayaks and we went over a few basics of kayaking - how to paddle, what is an eddy, etc. Then, without so much as a practice-roll or wet exit, we paddled off into the rapids. The first rapid we tried went well - it was just a watery hole with no major rocks to knock us around. Feeling fortified, we hiked up river to try out a 'technical class three.' The classes of rapids go from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most challenging. A class 6 is considered impossible. Again, do you see how this is getting set up for major badness??

Pete paddled down the rapid first, and I was supposed to follow his line. Derek and David would follow me. I had almost made it to the end of the rapid went I overbalanced my boat and flipped upside-down. I remembered to lean forward onto my boat to protect my body from any rocks. It was a good thing I did because the water was so shallow that I immediately became pinned between the a rock and my boat, with my back against the rock and my all-of-me under water....

At this point, I was supposed to 'pull my skirt' - the waterproof fabric that was keeping me stuck in the boat so I could do a 'wet-exit' - get suctioned out of my boat by the water rushing into it, and swim to the surface (or in this case, just stand up). Eyes closed and breath held, I reached for the loop to pull my skirt loose. I pulled.

And nothing happened.

I pulled again.

Nothing happened.

I began yanking on the thing frantically to get it off as my lungs began to burn. Because of the way I was pinned and my complete lack of arm strength, I didn't have the leverage I needed to pop the skirt. It was at this point that I realized I could die in the next couple of minutes - literally.

Meanwhile, above the surface. Derek and David had been starting at the top of the rapid when they saw me flip. David, distracted by my situation, lost his concentration on his own paddling and also flipped.

Back beneath the water, I continued to pull at the skirt until I realized I could not hold my breath any longer. This probably only took 30 seconds since I was pretty much in panic mode. But it felt like forever. Still pinned against a rock, it hit me that no one was coming to rescue me. If I didn't want to drown, I had to do something and rescue myself. Then, I finally realized - I was pinned against a rock... and I was only in maybe one to two feet of water. Giving up on the pull-handle, I reached behind and pushed as hard as I could against the rock while craning my head over the side of my upside-down boat towards the surface.


But moving my boat caused it to get caught in the current again - and I was quickly shoved around and back under the water. As the boat shifted, I was pushed off of the rock and was left to flounder with no leverage once again. I went back to work on the pull-handle.

David, had been underwater when I got my gasp of air. He had quickly popped his skirt and was able to stand up, however he had not seen that I had been able to get air. As far as he know, I had been underwater for about a minute at this point. I'm pretty sure I scared a couple years off his life... (David, don't say anything if I got this part of the story wrong - it sounds super suspenseful like this)

As I continued to struggle with the pull-handle, I was running out of air once again. About ready to give up and try to push off whatever rocks I could find, my boat suddenly flipped upright - Pete had managed to paddle up the rapid to me, and was attempting to roll me upright. I got another gasp of air before we were both flipped back under the water.

This was where I got pissed off. I was not going to drown in one stupid foot of water. With the heat of my anger, I reached to pull the skirt handle again, throwing my weight back as a yanked on it - and POP! Water rushed into my boat, flushing me out. The water was shallow enough that I had to twist to get out from under the boat and wrenched my right knee.

And then I stood up.

Derek and David made it to me seconds later. I don't remember, but I"m pretty sure Pete got flushed back down the rapid - I made him lose his paddle when I flipped him or something like that. The entire ordeal took maaaybe 3 minutes. But I will never forget it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh. My. Goodness. I had not heard that before. That is HORRIFIC.

    Glad you didn't die. :)