“Don’t just sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied. Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tide.”
– Garth Brooks, The River
Photos credit goes out to Gravity Adventures and Craig Rivette.
There is something about Spring that brings about an energy of change and a desire to emerge yourself in all of nature’s splendor. When Spring started to knock on my door this year I caved and went on a white river rafting trip with people who are real-life friends first and colleagues second.
We were exposed to true wilderness and adventure on the Doring River in the Cederberg mountains. This experience took me completely out of my comfort zone and opened up a whole new addiction. Years of canoeing with my dad was the gateway drug and Scott the enabler that pushed me over the edge. This weekend put into perspective how little you need in life to be truly happy.
We drove to the start point on Friday after work where we set up camp and took to the braai. It was also the last time we had an actual toilet and shower. After surviving a long night of lekker kuier and laughter around the fire followed by a super cold night we rose ready for what lay ahead. We made coffee because to be fair, life starts after coffee. We smashed some Ouma Rusks and then we got onto a big truck that drove us to the river bank.
We unloaded all the boats and tents on the river bank, praying that the river gods would be kind to us. After hearing the please don’t make things awkward and die safety speech and signing the indemnity forms we grabbed our paddles and braved the wilderness, still slightly unsure exactly what to expect.
This entire experience was euphoric. We encountered some grade 3 rapids along the way and some still water that provided us with ample time to take in the astonishing beauty around us.
Jen (my friend from New York) and I were not that good at taking direction. When the guides said keep right, we would somehow end up left braving the biggest part of the rapid. We did some 360s and even went down backward on one rapid – but we stayed on and we did what want.
Unlike Ian and Anisha (Another friend from New York) that went for a quick swim in the wild waters of the Doring River.
Lunch was served en route by the fantastic Gravity Adventures Team. Giving us time to soak up the sun and take in the remote beauty surrounding us.
It gave us time to smell the flowers…
And even pick some flowers. It was the first day of Spring after all.
After a gratifying day of defying gravity, we found a spot along the river bank that would be home for the night. My curly hair got so tangled up that Scotty had to take a knife to it. At least there are no bold patches – what I know off.
We had some interesting moments seeing as there was no bathroom facilities and a big conservation approach to how we keep this area clean. But you know what, despite hair lost and holes dug and hands held, wild is still my favorite colour!
We also partook in some river traditions. Apparently, it is a thing to drink a beer out of a boot when you fall into the river. We did so for gees. Scotty eagerly offered up his boot. He was after all the person that convinced us to come on this trip in the first place.
Our camping spot was pure magic despite it being very nippy at night. We ended up playing games and telling jokes around the fire just to shorten the icy night. Eventually, the fire died away and we fell asleep with the soothing river song. The cuddle for body heat was real.
The next morning we got up again bright and early. We drank some coffee and after a hearty breakfast, we got ready to take on the river again.
It started out all blue-skied and birds singing in the distance. Alas, it didn’t last long. Soon the wind picked up against us. Jen and I fell out on two rather small rapids. We just couldn’t avoid those rocks. By the way, the “hug the rock” thing is a lie. Both times Jen and I “hugged the rock” we also tackled the water. We struggled against the pesky wind, that is until Scotty decided to give us a tow – Give that man a bells!
From there we were faced with stormy weather and rain. We were definitely not complaining about the rain but embracing it. Any Capetonian would welcome rain after this draught. Besides, when was the last time you played in the rain?
I will always be grateful for the friendships forged and the people met. Another bucket list item ticked. The river has a way of leading you home.
There is this beautiful quote by Benjamin Mee that sum’s the essence of this experience up perfectly: “You know, all you need is 20 seconds of complete insane bravery and I promise something truly amazing will come out of it.”
At the end of this journey, we were not ready for it to be over. Of all the addictions in life, this is by far the most healthy of them all.
An Adventure Junkie
Gravity Adventures is pushing their season into October, so if you want to take advantage of the late rains, book a weekend with them now. You will never really know unless you go!