So, obviously it's been almost a month since I updated my blog. The last time I wrote, I was getting ready for an awesome rafting trip. Since then, many things have happened, so I'll write a few posts to update you all on the last few weeks.
The Rafting Trip:
We left Monday morning, right after chapel, and drove off into the sunset. Wait, it wasn't sunset... it was sunrise... well, not even that exactly. It was precisely 9 o'clock AM when we left, with a long drive ahead of us. We drove across Montana, the into Idaho and down to the Salmon River. The drive took around 5 1/2 hours, during which we slept, read, laughed, and stared out the windows. Not necessarily in that order though, obviously... I think the order was more like sleep, read, sleep, laugh, sleep, read, laugh, sleep, stare out windows, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, wait, this is getting repetitive somehow. =)
After arriving at the Salmon River, we unloaded everything from the vans and trailers, changed into river clothes, loaded everything on the rafts, and started paddling down the river. Unlike Explore, who learns everything about rafting before doing it, Discover started down the river and then discovered that many of us didn't know the first thing about river protocol... so, we learned.
We went about an hour and a half down the river, then pulled out and set up camp. By that time, it was around 6:30, and the sun was getting ready to set. So, I worked with the dinner crew getting food ready for the group while others unloaded rafts, set up the Schruter*, layed out the tarps for sleeping and generally had fun.
*Note: At this point, I should explain the Schruter. It was the bucket-toilet, named because of a certain character from the Office, namely, Dwight Schrute. The nickname stuck.
We went to sleep under the stars, enjoying a warm breeze floating down the river canyon. Unfortunately, the warm breeze did not stay warm, and we woke up COLD. I woke up early and lay in my warm sleeping bag looking at the stars. Shortly after the stars disappeared, Luke woke us up to go do personal devos. Then it was breakfast, loading rafts, and down the river again.
Tuesday, we traveled quite a long ways. I could go into more detail, but my journal isn't handy, so I'll just re-construct as I can. Tuesday, we had fun doing various things, from cliff-jumping to pirating, to swimming a little rapid as a group. The weather was amazing, as soon as it warmed up, the water was warm, and the group spirit was fun. We ended the day at a normal sort of time, did dinner and dessert, visited, and went to bed. The stars were lovely and it was pleasant to wake up during the night and look at them.
Wednesday was a fun day. We had harder rapids to do, so it was a little more focused during the first part of the day, but we aced the rapids and enjoyed the extra measure of danger. After the main rapids were over, we had a long section of smooth, deep water, and most all of us went swimming. Then it was back in the rafts and doing a couple more rapids. We ended rafting a little early that day, around 3, and then had fun. We went swimming, flipped a raft upside down and used it as a water slide, and hauled the fully-loaded cargo rafts up a 20 foot hill of sand. My work crew grilled up hamburgers for the group and then we had a group meeting.
The theme throughout the week was "pointing positive." This is a river term meaning that when you see rocks or something in the river to avoid, don't point at the problem, point the direction you need to go. The application for this was that we as a group and as individuals need to not be pointing at our problems, but pointing at the direction we need to be going. The evening meeting was focused on the idea of pointing positive and how we could practically do that. We each grabbed a rock and as we set our rock down (making an arrow pattern) we named something that we enjoyed or appreciated from the day. Then, it was off to bed and sleep.
Thursday was team day. On previous days, each raft had a guide from Bighorn in it, making sure that we could do the rapids and giving us instructions. Thursday, the guides were gone, all on cargo rafts, and Omega Force Nine and Killer Wicked Awesome (myself being a member of OF9) each had a paddle raft to guide themselves. Each member took a turn guiding the raft and we had a nice pleasant morning with little (and a couple bigger) rapids. Team rafts continued through the early afternoon, and then we got guides back. Not too long after the guides returned to the paddle rafts, Zack (OF9's guide) asked for a couple volunteers to swim a bigger rapid. Naturally, I volunteered! Mike from my raft and Jake from the other also swam. It was a blast! Slightly scary too, but that made it even more fun. Jake got stuck in a pillow for a little while, but managed to get out. I got into one briefly, but popped out right away. Not too long after that, the Salmon River joined the Snake River, then things got hard.
We stopped at a waterfall briefly, took a picture of the group there, and continued on.
The killer part was the next two hours. There was a wind coming up the canyon, trying to push the rafts upstream, so we had to paddle constantly. Zach kept us cheerful though, and we tried to encourage each other a lot. Eventually we got to a camp site and set things up. That campsite, however, was rattlesnake heaven. There were three rattlesnakes spotted, of varying sizes, two of which were killed. This is one of the victims:
Friday morning we were waked up early to do solo time. We packed our dry bags, ate breakfast, and then went off for two hours separately to spend time with God. It was pretty awesome. Then it was back to the river on the party barge. Because of the slower current, small number of rapids, and wind working against us, we pulled out a small outboard motor, tied the rafts together, and used the motor to do the work for us. Here's the party barge:
After a couple hours, we were in Washington and pulled out near Asotin. After unloading all the rafts, changing clothes, debriefing, and eating lunch, we took a picture and got in the vans to head back to Bighorn.
The van drive returning wasn't quite as long, due to the fact that we were traveling more interstates. We stopped at Pizza Hut in Spokane on the way back, then slept, read, talked and laughed our way back to Camp Bighorn, arriving there about ten o'clock.
The end of the trip was really on Saturday, when we cleaned everything up, including the Schruter, and put all our stuff away. Thus ended The Rafting Trip. The End.