I grew up rafting. It was an annual adventure and I had taken it over from my dad in the summer of 2008. I was now the one calling friends, planning menus, and shepherding people safely through the rapids.
In November of 2008 I sustained a spinal cord injury falling 40 feet from a tree. I had a fracture-dislocation of T8/T9 and could not move or feel my legs. Through 10 months of therapy and the support of my family and friends i had adjusted to my new life in a wheel chair.
I had recovered some movement and feeling but remained in a wheelchair. But through a stubborn attachment to the outdoors I was still cliff “jumping,” climbing, and camping. I’d even convinced my father to take me down the snake river in the middle of the raft.
3 years later in the summer of 2011 I had recovered enough strength to be able to get around some with a cane or crutches. This made the wilderness much more accessible (albeit at a slower pace). I finally felt ready to lead a river trip again.
Westwater was running at 35,000cfs and we were excited at the opportunity to do a day trip through the steep canyon walls. I finally felt at home again at the back of the raft. And felt no panic at the prospect of getting dumped in the center of skull rapid.
I was back, back to my happy place. I have since been through the Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Westwater again, and the Snake River. I have fallen out multiple times and enjoyed every swim. It’s so good to be back.