“I’m a little nervous about this one,” says Lance as we push the the raft off the bank.
Yeah, me too, I tell him. Downstream was the horizon line to Boulder Drop–a class IV/V rapid on the Skykomish River. A series of three large moves, the route through means threading several large boulders, skirting thundering holes of whitewater, and being spit out the other end.
“I guess this is why we do this, right?” Lance laughs as we start to set up for the line.
And he’s right–isn’t that why most of who venture outside do anything? To test our grit and to see what we’re made of? In truth, Boulder Drop isn’t a rapid that’s going to silence a bar when you announce you’ve run it. It’s not a bus eater that only the infinitely skilled or certifiably crazy attempt; it’s just another stretch of whitewater, a bit more technical than most. But the first time you run it, it scares the shit out of you, and that’s the point.
It doesn’t really matter how big the rapid is; it’s how big it seems to you when you’re bent over, hands on the tube, just staring at the horizon line. Reviewing the route in your head. Thinking about all the different ways your limbs could bend or your lungs could fill with water. Because in your head this is huge, and it’s at that moment it becomes a monster, and it’s at that moment you decide if you’re going to scrub it. But if you can break the paralysis that holds, shake off the fear that wants to keep you safely on the bank, and charge at it with everything you can, you’ve already won. Maybe you’ll stick it, or maybe you’ll take a nasty swim–but you made the decision to bet on yourself, your ability, and your partner in the boat with you, and that’s the real battle right there; sticking the landing is just icing on the cake.
Despite a little scare at the beginning, it was all icing.
Lance was right.