Didn’t I say that it’s already hard to remember the details of all old trips? I finally found my old photo albums and discovered that the Grand Canyon trip I wrote about yesterday was actually in 1999. In ’96 I did a Greyhound bus tour together with a pal in the East Coast US, and today’s souvenir is from my actual first TrekAmerica trip in ’97. Significantly, it is also the trip that made me so awestruck with the Canadian Rockies that I went back there (in 2006, so the full story is in this blog). And to be honest, I wouldn’t mind going back to the Rockies but I would probably prefer to go south of the border and visit the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone again (I was there in ’94, with a lousy compact camera).
The Rockies trip didn’t include anything quite as exciting as the rollercoaster flight, but it was the first time I did whitewater rafting. I’ve done whitewater rafting three times, and without even planning it, I went from very tame to exciting to crazy wild. The rafting rapids are graded in a scale of 1 to 6, where 1 is tame and 6 includes actual waterfalls and I don’t think any commercial operators even have grade 6 rapids on offer.
So this first time I did rafting, it was along the Chilliwack River in South-West Canada and as I recall, mostly it was just sitting calmly in the raft and watching the world go by. The only reason anybody got wet was because it was raining, the grade 2 rapids didn’t pose any risk for anybody to fall in the water. After the rafting, the organiser had some merchandise to sell and I got myself this baseball cap which has served me very well over the years, so not all souvenirs are trash! Obviously I don’t wear the pins on the cap, but I just added them for measure… the bronze pin is from the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary and the colourful pin doesn’t need any explanation.
The second time I did rafting was on a grade 3 river, it was part of the same trip as the Grand Canyon flight. The third and last time I rafted was downstream from the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. River Zambezi is said to be the wildest whitewater rafting in the world and when I got out from that trip without falling in the water (not counting the obligatory training dip in calm waters before the rafting even began), I decided that it would be the last time I ever do whitewater rafting. Three times, including the Grade 5 rapids of River Zambezi, without falling… it’s a perfect track record and I want to keep it that way!