3 Ways River Trips Changed My Life
I thought I was a spontaneous kinda girl. Chocolate cake for breakfast. Go away for the weekend without hotel reservations. Occasionally singing karaoke. That was me. That is, until I discovered river trips and learned to move lighter, faster and higher than I ever thought possible. Here’s what’s changed…
1. The way I pack.
Packing for a trip of any length, to any destination, used to create anxiety for me. I would get a case of the “what-ifs.” What if it is hot, cold, it rains, I break a nail, I get a headache, I need to exfoliate, I meet a movie star and need an evening gown? Checklists and suitcases overdone.
When you live on a river for a week at a time, not only do you learn very quickly what you can actually live without, you also learn what you can live with. The same sweatshirt four days in a row? No problem. Broken, dirty, raggedy nails? I’ll deal when I get back. Hair washed with nothing but river water? Bring it on.
I have never forgotten my toothbrush on a river trip but I am pretty sure my world would not end if I did (fuzzy teeth and all).
2. The way I handle “business.”
The other day I found myself in a situation. A long car ride, a country road, and a full bladder. When I did not hesitate to drop my drawers and pee on the side of the road, my traveling companion was mortified. “OMG, what are you doing?” she exclaimed in horror.
O.A.R.S. does absolutely everything they can to make you comfortable. But there comes a time when it is easier, more efficient and less troublesome to just jump in the river and pee. Or, to pull your pants down and pee on the riverbank. Or, to step outside your tent in the middle of the night and pee in a red bucket.
You don’t want to be “That Guy,” who makes the entire entourage stop and pull off to the side of the river so the crew can set up a private privy–just so you can handle your business. In a series of “get over yourself” moments, I have tapped into the wisdom of millions of humans who came before me – long before indoor plumbing and even outhouses – and have learned that peeing outside is no biggie.
Photo: Jim Allen
3. The way I live.
On my Rogue River rafting trip this past summer, I was presented with not one, but four opportunities to overcome a fear. Not exactly a fear of heights, more like a fear of pain. Having been called a “klutz” most of my life and recently overcoming an ACL tear and subsequent knee surgery, I am always pretty cautious about anything remotely athletic. I really am averse to hurting myself.
On the Rogue River there are four opportunities to leap, jump, plunge or otherwise hurl yourself from a ragged cliff into a raging river. The heights range from 16 to 30-feet. To put that in perspective, imagine a two-story building and a four-story building. I had to watch a couple of people go first, but then I did it. I may have screamed like a girl, and gotten a nose full of water. But I did it. Yes, it is scary every time, but the exhilaration and the pure joy of leaping, flying and splashing into a majestic river is better than chocolate cake for breakfast.
And so I live with a little less anxiety and a little less fear, but with a whole lot more confidence and a much lighter suitcase.