Shirley and I were professional rafters. We used rafts to do different types of racing competitions all over America. We usually competed with different teams of eight, just like us and we paddled rafts towards a set finishing line.
In all the twenty competitions that we had participated in, we had only lost one, and this had made us get a solid reputation and respect from a lot of people all over America, and even the world.
I had started rafting when I was eighteen, and back then, I had taken it as an important hobby. I used to raft alone, and I enjoyed it immensely. Then I had met Shirley’s brother, Dave, who had taken me under his wing and made me participate in different rafting competitions.
Whenever I was in a raft, any raft, I become part of it, and it feels as if every inch of the raft speaks to me and tells me what to do. I had won all the competitions easily. Dave had been so impressed, and he had asked me to join his team of eight who were always competing with others.
It was not easy to use a raft to navigate a body of the high speeding river when alone. Doing it with a group was safer, but for a team to win, their actions must be coordinated. The team members must be in sync, otherwise, they may not have a chance.
When I first joined, I was awkward. Everything had been awkward. It took a long time for me to integrate myself into the team after rafting alone for a long time. The different practices we had helped. It was there that I had met Shirley and we had become fast friends.
We won a lot of raft racing competitions when Shirley was in charge, and we also lost a lot too. Tragedy befell the team when during a competition in Taos, New Mexico, Dave got wounded. It was a day none of the team members could forget. By that time, I was the vice-Captain to Dave. We had already outrun all the opponents, and we were almost at the finishing line when Dave, against all rules and regulations, stood up and began to scream in victory.
I guess that he must have been too excited about the fact that we were about to win. Rafting required a lot of caution. The rivers are sometimes treacherous, and to someone who goes rafting for the first time, the speeding rivers look as if they are angry and they want to carry you and smash you against a rock.
Anyway, our raft smashed into a big wave, and Dace lost his footing. He fell into the water and hit his head against a rock. We had to stop and dive into the water to get him aboard. A helicopter came and took him to a nearby hospital. Before we knew it, we had lost the competition. We didn’t care though. All we wanted was for Dave to be okay.
While Dave recuperated in the hospital, I was named the captain in his stead. I was able to lead the others in winning so many competitions. I don’t know about the others, but whenever we rafted a river, I always felt a thrill and my adrenaline was always surging.
Shirley continued his speech about the Grand Canyon. I had never been to the Grand Canyon, but I had seen pictures and videos, and as a rafter, I had had to watch the videos of rafters who had a lot of fun rafting the treacherous river. Dave had once mentioned taking the team to the Grand Canyon and rafting it. According to him, rafting in the Grand Canyon River would make the team’s skills more enhanced.
I had read that the Grand Canyon was 277 miles and has a depth of about 1857 meters. It seemed daunting. One would also need a Grand Canyon raft permit before one could do anything there.
“We should try it,” Shirley said. “Dave had talked a lot about it. We should do it for him.”
The decisions about the team were made by Shirley and me since he was my vice. I considered his idea, and I found it nice. I had always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon to check out the view. Now, it seemed I would have the opportunity actually to raft it. I faced Shirley and smiled. “Let’s do it,” I said.
Shirley jumped up and screamed in excitement. Then I heard other screams of excitement, and I realized that the other team members had been watching out for my decision.
Our preparation began. We flew to Arizona. The first thing we did was get a permit which we got easily because of our vast experience in rafting. Then we set about getting everything we needed for the rafting experience. Some shops had everything we needed.
We got a raft that was enough for eight people and paddles for each of us, including two extra in case any of the paddles get damaged. We got sunblock, lip balm, medications, camera, bathing suits, sturdy footwear, and sunglasses with straps and helmets. Then we were good to go.
We found a place on the map where we could begin our rafting, and a helicopter took us there in batches. Shirley and I were the first to land there, and we surveyed the place for the best position to begin. When everyone had alighted, we ate and enjoyed ourselves before getting on the raft. Then we began to paddle on the river. The waves made by the river were very high, and they moved with power.
We paddled with great energy and the raft ride on the waves. Water splashed over our bodies but thanks to our experience, we were able to navigate. We did our best to avoid the walks of the canyon as we moved the raft to our next position.
On the way, Shirley fell out of the raft when a waved lifted us. The water began to push him away, and I was scared that the same thing that happened to his brother would happen to him too. I urged the guys to keep paddling, and we were able to get him back on board.
We screamed in excitement as we went past each wave and when we finally got to the other location, we were very happy and celebrated while we waited for the helicopter to come and pick us up.