November 17, 2010

RTW: Whitewater adventures

Each week, YA Highway hosts Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival in which contributors discuss a topic on their blogs and invite readers to do the same. This week's RTW topic is:

YA Highwayer Kirsten Hubbard's debut novel, LIKE MANDARIN, opens with, "The winds in Washokey make people go crazy."

Name a time you did something completely crazy.

I'm a really goofy person, but also very serious about life. I'm adventurous but not even remotely wild. So I don't have a whole lot of "crazy" stories.

The one thing that comes to mind, however, is a 2-week extreme sports trip I took with my college classmates a few weeks before freshman year. It was supposed to be an exercise in teambuilding for a leadership class. Our participation was being graded, and it would count as 20% of our semester grade.

It was also the craziest thing I've ever done.

I whitewater rafted. Without my glasses. And I'm here to tell you, whitewater rafting is no joke. Every time we approached a rapid, the guide instructed us which way to swim to avoid drowning or being crushed against the rocks should we fall out of the raft.

I fell out on a class III rapid. Tame, as rapids go.

I swam in a river (something I've always been scared of. I'm an ocean girl). A dead fish almost floated into me.

Video of "Surprise," the class III rapid I fell out of the raft on
New River, West Virginia

I jumped off a 30 foot cliff into the river. Blindfolded. With someone whom I'd only met that week directing me to the edge and telling me when to jump.

I completed an extreme mountain biking challenge. I hit the front brakes instead of the back and went over my handlebars. I fell over on a too-steep hill and my bike chain cut into my calf.

I rappelled down a 70 foot cliff. The instructor made me do it right-handed. I am left-handed.

Oh, did I mention I'm sorta afraid of heights?

I slept on a wooden bunk, 5 feet from a ceiling full of spiders. At night, I watched them scuttle along their webs, freaking out that they'd come down and bite me during the night. Fortunately, most nights I was too drained to care for very long.

But I did it all.

The only thing I wouldn't finish was the rock climbing exercise.  I got 20 or 30 feet up and almost had a nervous breakdown.  It was the end of the trip; I was banged up and mentally and physically exhausted. I didn't care if I had a belay line or not, it was too much for me.

When I hit the ground and unhooked my gear, I burst into tears, thinking I was going to get a failing grade because I didn't finish the exercise. Thinking that I'd done all those other scary things for nothing.

But you know what?

I earned an A.  Because I tried.

I am a firm believer in the saying, "You aren't brave if you aren't scared." People who do dangerous or scary things and aren't the least bit scared aren't brave. They are stupid, or worse, reckless.

I was scared out of my mind, and I did it all anyway. There were a lot of people who refused to participate in any of the activities. In the end, it didn't really matter that grades were the thing motivating me.

I did it. I did it when others wouldn't. I was brave.

I would never whitewater raft or rappel again. I would never ever try to climb a mountain again unless I had some hardcore scary wildlife chasing me up it.

But I'm glad I did it all.


Jennifer Hoffine said...

You did deserve an A for trying, and (more important) for facing your fears. Glad you got it!

Sarah Enni said...

Holy cow, those are some amazing things. Especially jumping off a cliff BLINDFOLDED?! That is amazing!! It's so great that your school gave you the opportunity to do those things. Really sets the tone for putting yourself out there for new experiences.

Erinn said...

WOW... I mean WOW... Cliff jumping blindfolded... I just pooped myself thinking about that.

you win--- you had your crazy pants on.

Alicia Gregoire said...

Wow. I peed reading all those things you did. So impressed right now...

Kaitlin Ward said...

What a great post! And that trip sounds amazing.

Anonymous said...

Not only are these incredible things - most of which I would be too terrified to attempt (though I did white-water raft several times and adored it...but don't go askin' me to jump of a cliff blindfolded - nuh-uh...)
Anyway, not only are these amazing things, but you write so well that I was breathless just reading them! You def deserved that A!

Kirsten Hubbard said...

all of that sounds amazing! wow, I would love to take a class like that. not that I wouldn't be terrified out of my mind most of the time.

Jus said...

"I slept on a wooden bunk, 5 feet from a ceiling full of spiders. At night, I watched them scuttle along their webs, freaking out that they'd come down and bite me during the night"

I'd never be able to go to sleep!! :D

Katy said...

That sounds like a once-in-a-life time trip. I'd love to go white water rafting someday. And glad you got an A!

Shayda Bakhshi said...

That sounds like the most epic college course ever. o.0

You are my hero.

Rebecca B said...

I am so impressed. Whitewater rafting actually terrifies me. I'm not even okay with tubing, its lesser cousin. Congrats on your bravery!

Angie said...

Fantastic post! I had to sit and scratch my head to tell whether i believed you or not. I guess I do though. :) I hope they weren't really big spiders. :)

Abby Stevens said...

Jennifer - Thank you! It was definitely an experience to remember!

Sarah - Ha ha, I still can't believe I did most of them, either. Although I will admit it seems far more impressive on paper than it did at the time, sweating and bleeding and just wishing I was at home in the AC watching MTV.

Erinn - Actually, I checked the tag, and it says I'm wearing "Desperate Overachiever" pants. :D At least, I was then. I've lost a fair amount of motivation since then, and I have to say it's actually a good thing. Much less stressful.

Alicia - Lol, Erinn metaphorically pooped and you metaphorically peed. My post metaphorically smells like a bathroom now! ;D

Kaitlin - Thank you! It was definitely amazing, although at the time I would've likely described it as 'harrowing' instead.

Dana - Thank you so much! Your comment really made me smile. :)

Kirsten - I was definitely terrified out of my mind the whole time, but I'm glad I did it.

Jus - Luckily, they kept us so busy during the day, I honestly could barely keep my eyes open by bedtime. Otherwise, yeah... I'd not have slept at all.

Katy - Thank you! It was definitely a once in a lifetime thing - literally. My husband wants to go whitewater rafting and I'm like... NOT happening. Not with me, anyway! lol

Sayda - :D Ah-thank you! And it was a pretty cool class. The actual course was a lot of pyschology.

Rebecca - Now tubing is something I really would like to do! And thank you!

Angie - Thank you. :) Everything in the post is definitely true! And they weren't, like, garden orb spiders (which we have around our yard and are the size of a nickel!). These were the normal-looking spiders you find in closets and corners or whatever. But still, that doesn't really make it any better, does it? It just doesn't make it worse. Lol.

Abby Stevens said...

Sorry about misspelling your name, Shayda!

Ariana said...

Wow, that sounds so intense! I am neither athletic nor so courageous when it comes to heights.

P.S. What are the names of your cats? :3

Claire Dawn said...

You've made ME seem tame. Did not even know that was possible. I'm the sort of girl that people didn't play truth or dare with because they were worried I'd embarrass them :)

Congrats on White Water rafting. Fellow ocean girl here.

My verification is gahimp, which given present convo sounds like Jay-Z for gimp. :S

Stephanie S. Kuehn said...

Spiders! Ack. Wow, that sounds like such a fun/challenging/unforgettable adventure...lots of adrenaline! And how great that you gave it all a shot.

Amanda Hannah said...

That's . . .amazing. Wow! Kudos for being so brave. I would have flipped out lol

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