When I first 'cut my teeth' river rafting, my instructors talked about a collection of 'river gods'. They were not referring to the bold whitewater enthusiasts who were starting to push the boundaries of river rafting all over the planet while claiming first descents, though many thought of those daring adventurers as 'river gods'. It was their way of introducing the green river runners in our party to their version of the mythological pantheon of 'river gods' that they claimed were part and parcel of a free-flowing river.
I do not have a river story for you this week, but I had a visit from a good friend from Bellingham and our reunion reminded me of one of the other reasons I have persevered with this little cottage industry.
I wrote a story a few years back titled "Why I (Continue to) Raft" and the gist of that column was that I realized how much I enjoyed getting people out on the water and watching the transformation. It ended with the brief tale of my very young nephew from Dallas who floated the Skagit and - at first - was terrified of the moving, darn-cold-if-you're-from-Texas water. And, despite being on a trip surrounded by a large Y group of boisterous Northwesterners who could not get enough of swimming, it appeared he would endure the trip and be ecstatic to see the takeout and a warm, dry car.
(A little over halfway around the circuit trail of Torres del Paine, running short on food, running short on patience, our intrepid adventurers, having moved on to a camp safe from falling timber, discover ‘el sendero’ - the trail - might just get worse. . . )
The night following the lunch communication fiasco we camped away from the forest of quaking, due-to-topple-at-any-moment behemoths, enjoyed a final cookie and began dreaming of being anywhere but on that godforsaken trail. The winds off the glacier were sporadic, but always prevalent. As we tromped the western portion of the trail most exposed to the glacial torrents, we started encountering ravines with lively, splashy streams.