Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Rafting Trips and Diablo Shuttles

Spring rafting has started with hundreds of people flocking to their computers, iphones, ipads and android devices all texting, calling, messaging, and throwing rocks at us. Yes, someone actually did after they saw the company vehicle go by them. "Damn rafters," they shouted. A sentiment so removed from the reality of today.

California rafting with WET River Trips
Rafting Fun! Smiling, Paddling!

About 20 years ago, when I was shuttling trucks for W.E.T. River Trips on the Merced near Yosemite, my fellow shuttle mate and I were moving a van and a truck to the take-out or egress point. Movement was slow as we had gear in the vehicles, and we were trudging along coaxing our tires to remain full over sharp debris.

So many rocks along the narrow, winding road, prevented us from traveling more than 15 mph. The heat was stifling as we drove, and I could see the water vapor evaporating above the heated rocks near the river, turning into a ghostly mist.

California rafting with WET River Trips
March Fun on South Fork American River!

Suddenly, a figure appeared in the road. Just stepping from behind a boulder, a grizzly older man in non-hipster torn-up jeans, a wife-beater and a rifle in his hand. He raised the barrel and pointed it directly into the front of the window. He said, "What are you doing?"

My heart started pounding. Is this where I am going to meet my maker? What the hell...

He asked both of us to get out of our vehicles. At that point, my anger took over and I told him, "No." I said we were in a hurry to make the egress point. We told him that a large group was about to get off the river, and they were to meet us at the take-out point. I also told him that they would be floating by shortly.

He lowered his rifle and started laughing. "Ohhhhh, you are rafters." And, then he started talking about his mining activity. I let out an audible sigh, and knew we had to do a bit of community conversation that all of us rafters do when we meet the locals near the river.

We chatted for a few more minutes and then we were back on the journey. As we arrived to the egress point, we found a semi-shady spot to wait. I got out of the truck and set up my Therm-A-Rest pad, the self inflating pad that always brought comfort to anyplace that I laid my head down. My shuttle mate did the same, and we proceeded to relax by the river.

"Crack! Boom!, " a very large bang exploded the silence in that rocky canyon. I jumped up and, both of us turned to each other and said, "What was that?"

Then something whizzed passed above my head. OMG! Someone is shooting at us. We quickly hid behind boulders, heart exploding in unison with the whitewater rapids hitting the rocks, and at that moment, I went into survival mode.

Forget the cell phones. This canyon prevents them from working well. I grabbed a large boulder and hung onto to it as the only weapon available.

Then the noise stopped. I could hear someone's laughter echoing in the canyon. Very funny. I suppose. To scare a couple of girls in this lost canyon. I swear, if I had a gun or rifle, I think I might have re-enacted all those silly westerns. Bang, bang, bang...

California rafting with WET River Trips
We got Whitewater!

The majority of communities in California are used to rafters floating past their homes, businesses or driving populations into their communities to spend hard cash at their restaurants, bars and lodging accommodations.

We are finally welcome in most communities. Our whitewater rafting industry is a clean one. We shuttle our guests in vans or buses. We recycle the majority of our waste products such as plastics, paper, aluminum and garbage. Our community leaders fight for our planet to save rivers and the riparian life.

We believe in water. The act of paddling on the river is so primitive to our human species, that we can witness the impact when we take our guests down the river on multiple-day trips. After a couple of days, most are on "river time." The guests slow down, they relax and the type-A personality turns into a type-B very quickly as each of us become tuned to the flow of the river.

For those of you who are ready to release from your hectic lives, call us (888.723.8938 yes, we are plugging it)  and we will help you to create that magical sense of flow on our rivers. We are now an oldster company, founded in 1978 and still helmed by the original owner, is ready to embrace the challenges of business, community and river life itself.

Spring rafting is here!

Written by: ~ EL
All photos: W.E.T. River Trips flickr

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