The life and death brigade

I love that a good near death experience can make you feel so alive. Adrenaline junkies the world over know the allure of this natural narcotic.

This past Saturday I ventured back to Ohiopyle, PA and the Yough River and its tribs. The Yough is dear to me. It is by far the most fun river I've rafted. Having just finished up several days of project work in the area, some friends and I decided that (1) I needed to check out the project site after a couple of days and (2) a little river recreation was in order. Think cold, clear water flowing over cobble and bedrock.

After a three hour drive through the rolling hills of Maryland and Pennsylvania, we were disappointed to learn that they were booked up for the day...the entire town...all the outfitters. Hahahaha. The website had said reservations weren't taken for those with parties less than 6, but evidently, I read incorrectly. Not one to miss out on playing in the water, we decided to take advantage of the area's natural attractions you didn't have to have a reservation for.

We decided to shake off the lethargy from the drive and hike to the dam removal sites we worked on earlier in the week. I needed to shots of how the stream was doing, and my friends needed to experience what we did. After the hike, we grabbed some lunch at a tavern and set out to play in the river and lay on its banks. That's where the real fun began. We decided to walk across the river to these massive rocks and lay out on those. It seemed doable. It looked like others had done it. Well, the current was pretty swift and the rocks were algae covered. Scarlet and Terra were closer to the shore, and turned around to put our bags back on the banks. Ali and I, however, wanted to keep going. We're smart (*cough* adventurous) like that. Next thing I knew, I slipped on a rock and lost my balance. Given how swift the current was moving, that was all it took. I went down. Despite my efforts to swim and to also gain some traction, I started getting carried toward some minor rapids. These weren't my main concern. I could ride out the rapids. I was worried that if I was carried that far I would lose any chance at stopping. Beyond the smaller drops were two bouy lines aimed at stopping people before they got to the waterfall.

I was not looking forward to testing my dexterity in grabbing this rope. Honestly, I thought I might actually bite it. Somehow, I managed to get some traction before the rapids. As Ali and Terra were making their way to me, Ali loses it and starts heading for the rapids. I grab her but can only hold her in place. With Terra's help we grabbed her and all started heading toward the slower moving water. In what would be comedic if not so heart-pounding, Terra loses her footing next and starts for the rapids. I grab Terra (I'm still bringing up the rear and am evidently playing catcher). Ali makes her way there, and then helps save Terra. Haha (yes, we are all kind of laughing throughout this entire ordeal). We finally make it to slower water and eventually sun ourselves on the rocks. Magazines, books, and ice cream dulled any potential fear. Needing to test our limits once more, we headed for the natural water slides. After consulting with some locals sporting confederate flag do-rags and muttering "you're only 32 once" to myself, I climbed over the rocks and lept into a little gorge that shot water down to a pool. That didn't kill me either. I did, however, get a couple of banged up elbows as I somehow managed to flip over mid-slide and couldn't figure out what to do with my arms.

All in all, I considered it a successful, fun day. ;-)