The sky was overcast early last Tuesday morning as we loaded our luggage into the van.
Although rain threatened throughout the eight-hour drive to the Ottawa region, the temperature was warm and comfortable. Traffic was low and with excellent navigation from Marlene, a few pit stops, a lunch break and a couple stretch stops to re-invigorate circulation, we arrived at the estimated time.
After we registered, found our accommodations and unloaded the van we headed to a nearby, highly recommended brewery/restaurant for supper. Marlene wasn’t too sure we were on the right road but I was certain enough to make a small wager.
I bought the beer at supper. When some of the staff at the restaurant asked where we were from, one of the guys knew Otterville and had worked at a vegetable farm in Langton many, many years ago. Small world.
After a lovely meal we returned to the resort. It was a long day and we were both tired from the drive, so we weren’t long heading back to our cabin. We had an early morning wake-up call and we wanted to be rested and refreshed.
After breakfast we were given instructions. A bus took us to a compound where we picked up our gear and then walked about half a kilometre to our destination. We were given further instructions and training, had our gear checked and then pushed off shore into the Ottawa River to begin our whitewater rafting adventure.
It was cloudy, cool and windy, and I was so glad I decided to forgo the wool sweater for one of the zip-up wetsuit tops Marlene chose. There were five rafts, three with 12 people, one with six and ours had 10.
We paddled downriver with our guide, Betty, who had us practice various activities upon command. Paddling is hard work but it didn’t take us long to synchronize and soon we passed the other rafts and took the lead.
Betty explained everything; where and how to sit for the different elements we would face, why we had to do certain things, all the possibilities of what could happen and what we should do in the event any of them happened to us.
The most important instruction was to keep paddling no matter what. It was the only thing I remembered when we hit the first thundering rapid. We were flung forward, thrown backward, hurled to the right and slung to the left and completely engulfed with water. I paddled like a crazy person even though I know my paddle wasn’t anywhere near water most of the time. When we finally came out the other end of that rapid we were all still in the raft and a huge cheer rang out.
That was only the first rapid and we had eight or nine more to go. I prayed this was the worst. It wasn’t. But, at least, we had a better idea of what to expect. Or so we thought. Each one was unique in its ferocity, intensity and length.
The raft has full-width cylindrical seats and when you hit the rapids you sit over the half-inch space between the seat and the side. Your outside foot fits nicely between the space at the bottom of the seat in front of you and the raft wall. Your inside foot can wedge up under that seat for support. Your outside knee and calf hug the end of the seat in front and the inside knee grips the back. At least that is the start position.
To be continued...