December 2002 - When David and Judy asked me if I wanted to join
them and their friends on a rafting trip, I quickly said yes without thinking.
On the week before the trip I started to get apprehensive. What on earth
was I thinking about! I'm 45 years old and should be having a more settled
Am I going through a mid life crisis? Well if that's
the case then I've been going through it for the past 5 years with no
signs of it abating. On Sunday 1 December,
the day of the trip, it had been raining constantly for 24 hours.
As we drove along Loch Lomond we noticed waterfalls
from the mountains which we had never noticed before. Oh no does that
mean the River Orchy is in full flow? My heart was pounding and had butterflies
in my stomach. Seems a bit rich considering teaching anxiety management
techniques is part of my job.
We arrived at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel by 10am. We
met up with the instructors and other groups. We were taken to the bunkhouse
and kitted out with wet suits, jackets, life jackets boots and helmet.
Getting into a wet suit is skill. I was exhausted just getting dressed
in the gear.
We went behind the bunkhouse where three rafts and
paddles were waiting for us. We were divided into rafts and taught the
basics by the instructor. We then had to carry the raft to the waters
edge. The first few minutes were gentle and our instructor,
Marty from New Zealand, was trying to make us feel relaxed. This was difficult
when one of the girls kept saying "we're going to die".
The first rapid was called the 'Orgasm';, which was
certainly memorable for me! Marty told us to watch for the horizon to
disappear, that was a sign of rapids ahead. Whenever we saw the horizon
disppear, all you could hear was "Oh my God!"; Each rapid became
The rapids have been given names like Chicken
Shoot, Sheep Trolley Gorge and Witches Step. The most dangerous rapid
we encountered was Easan Dubh. I can't describe the feeling of doom just
before we went over the edge. I have not much recollection of it as I
just hung on for grim death and shut my eyes. On one rapid we managed
to get trapped on top of a rock. Marty tried bouncing the raft but to
no avail. Then we had to move our positions to try and change the weight
on the raft to see if that freed us but unfortunately nothing happened.
Then Marty got out onto the rock and dragged the raft
off then jumped in. Just before lunch we had to get out the rafts was
walk along the river's edge missing out a rapid that was too dangerous.
The rafts went over it without the crew and the instructors
jumped into them as they passed by at the bottom. We also reached a high
rock where the kamikaze among us, were jumping off into the unknown. That
is crazy as far as I'm concerned.
It was a brilliant day and we went back to the bunkhouse
for showers before heading to the pub. If anyone is interested in a trip
in the autumn, please let me now.