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Old August 8th 04, 11:50 PM
Celia Oblinger
 
Posts: n/a
Default Near Deaths on the Lower Gauley

The number one thing that I want to stress here is that - my friend and I had no business WHATSOEVER rafting on any part of the Gauley River.

I had rafted on the Ocoee ONCE before, with no mishaps, and no swimming - but I am NOT a rafter.

My friend had NO whitewater rafting experience.

And, like the rafting company ad said, this trip was even OK for novices........

And just FYI, I am a 52 year-old woman who regularly runs long distance competitive events. My friend is a 34 year-old woman who primarily leads an "inactive" life - but she is very strong - and has more strength to paddle than I do.

However, I want to detail to you how we both almost lost our lives on the Lower Gauley this past Friday, August 6.

Even though we had no business on this river in the first place, we both now question whether and how our near death experiences could have been prevented.

But most of all, if we could prevent anyone else from experiencing what we would - that is our goal.

For the sake of anonymity, I will call the rafting compnay ABC Rafting, and I will refer to two of the guides as Brad and Chuck.

Could this have been prevented?????

We arrived at ABC Rafting company well ahead of schedule. We registered, and soon Brad came over, told us he would be our guide, and he told us that we would soon be shown a safety video. The place were packed, and we were both excited our rafting trip!

Well, the place soon cleared out, and there was only my friend and I left. Apparently, all of the other people had been signed up for one of the New River trip.

Brad came back over and told us that we were waiting on a group of seven people who had mistakenly gone out with another group. They would soon be returning, and then we would be on our way.

Finally, the group of seven returned. We were all led out to get our life jackets, paddle, and helmets. I asked Brad about the safety video, but he said that he would explain everything to us on the bus.

Brad then told us that my friend and I would be in a boat with just our guide, Chuck. There would be only three of us.

Shortly after that, Chuck came over and said that Charlene would be going with us. I guess that Charlene would act sort of as an assistant.

So there was four of us that would be doing the Lower Gauley. I just casually remembered that when I had done the Ocoee, that it was a larger boat, and that there had been, I believe, a total of nine of us, including the guide. However, the only research that I had done prior to signing my friend and I up for this trip was - research on the rafting companies available. I should have done more research on whitewater rafting in general, and on the Gauley River in particular. This was my GRAVE mistake.

At any rate, we were off on our adventure!

And, Brad DID go over all of the preliminaries on the bus ride over. My friend and I both asked him to repeat some things over, and he did. We listened, asked questions, and had it all down......

Our "mishap" happened on Heaven Help Me/Us, right before Heaven's Gate.

Up to this point, we had finally begun to paddle "together" (We were both sitting in front, as per the Chuck's instructions, and Charlene was sitting in the middle location, in front of Chuck - and we made it just fine across what were terrifying Class III, IV, and close to Class V waves. We were getting the hang of it. But, yet, NEITHER of us wanted to "go swimming". THAT thought terrified us both. We both realized, before we ever got to Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate - that we were in over our heads.

And the next several items are what now concern us both the most:

1.)

Several comments had been made that - Chuck, our guide, had just gotten out from spending a year in prison. One of these comments was made before the bus even left for the take out, and another while we were stopped for lunch. Jokes??? I don't know. Brad did warn us that our guides would be making jokes all day, and that we should learn how to differentiate jokes from the truth.

2.)

Both Chuck, our guide, and Charlene, his assistant - REPEATEDLY told us that they had no recent experience on the Gauley - that neither of them had even been on it in over a year. They BOTH kept repeating it - and acted like it was a "badge of honor". Chuck reassured us, however, that he knew how to "read" the water......

3.)

I looked back several times, right before a huge set of waves - and Chuck, our guide, was STANDING UP, yelling "Yoo hoo!" Please tell me - is STANDING UP OK? Is this customarily done by guides?? If so, then I won't feel so bad - but, quite frankly, it scared me absolutely to death.

4.)

Chuck spent so much time talking and conversing with Charlene - that my friend and I had terrific problems determining what were paddling commands - and what were conversations with Charlene. THIS was not acceptable. We both listened very carefully to everything he said - and attempted to follow precisely what he said to do. But, it was hard.......

None of would have mattered, probably, in the end, if both my friend and I had not come so close to death between Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate.....

Just FYI, I have researched it - and I believe that Chuck's skills in navigating those particular waves was CORRECT. He did navigate left of center.

But as soon as we got left of center, both my friend and I were thrown completely out of the raft, into the air.

I can't speak for her, but she did go UNDER a rock - and was rescued by another ABC Rafting boat rafting with us, guided by Brad. There are parts that she doesn't remember - just like me.

But what happened to me, in the order that I remember them, is this:

1.) Being way in front of the boat, with our guide, Chuck, reaching out the T-grip end of the paddle to me. But I was being swept, rapidly, down stream. Trying to catch the T-Grip, but being too far away - and being swept away. I just knew that this was it. I was a complete goner.

2.) Then, a period that I don't remember - until I slammed into a rock. I, just for a second, remember Chuck in the boat, pointing for me to go away from the rock, to the left. (The rock was, going downstream, feet first, face up, on the left.)

3.) Then, a period that I don't remember. Just going under, trying to get back up.

4.) Finally, Chuck trying to grab me up by my life jacket into the boat - but I couldn't breath - as the life jacket had slid up - and was blocking all air.

Finally, I, by whatever miracle, was placed back into the boat. I asked about my friend, and she had been rescused by Brad into his boat.

I don't care what sort of errors, or misconduct, that I had thought that Chuck had done up to this point - HE SAVED MY LIFE. And he saved the life of someone who should never have been on that river to begin with. This man saved my life - absolutely - and I will forever be grateful to him.

Needless to say, both my friend and I were terrified for the remainder of the trip.

One thing that I do want to mention: My friend and I had asked Chuck, after lunch, but before Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate, if anyone had ever died rafting on the Lower Gauley. Granted, this was an extremelly stupid question. It was stupid because I should have done the research before I ever signed my friend and I up for the trip. But, Chuck shouldn't have lied either. He told us that, NO, no one had ever died rafting on the Lower Gauley.......

We remained completely terrified - and I even asked Chuck about the possibilities of getting a helicopter in there and getting out. Neither my friend or I wanted to continue the trip.

But Chuck told us that this was not possible - that the only way to the end - was by means of the raft.

OK. My friend and I had made a huge mistake by signing up for this trip. But I don't want other people to be allowed to make the same mistkae and live through the terror that we lived through.

We both just constantly prayed all the way from Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate - to the final last 3-1/2 miles of flat water.

Neither of us have ever been through so much terror - and we would never want anyone else to experience this either, unnecessarily.

Even though we shouldn't have been on that trip, do you think that the guide was OK??? Even after we were both back in the boat, and in definite trauma - he JUST KEPT TALKING about how this was his and Charlene's first time on this river in over a year!!! He did absolutely nothing to make us feel any better. It was almost as if he was trying to "push the envelope" as hard as he could.

Does anyone have any comments about this scenario at all????

Many thanks in advance.












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Old August 9th 04, 04:05 AM
Jon C
 
Posts: n/a
Default Near Deaths on the Lower Gauley

Sounds like you had no business rafting big water to begin with. Or,
for that matter, in a raft at all.

Why on earth would you go whitewater rafting and then bitch about swimming?
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Old August 9th 04, 04:20 AM
Celia Oblinger
 
Posts: n/a
Default Near Deaths on the Lower Gauley

Believe it or not, I'm not actually bitching about it.

I knew going in of the possibility of having to swim - I just hadn't done my
homework on the dangers that I would be accepting, and experiencing.

Bitching, I am not. Perheps my trip is nothing particularly out of the
ordinary - and if that is the answer, then this is what I want to know.

I'm not bitching about having to swim - I just wonder if it could have been
avoided. It was very dangerous in the areas into which we were thrown. If it
could have been avoided, then hopefully I could pass this information along,
in a constructive manner - so it would be better for other people down the
road.

My only "complaint" if you want to call it that - is that perhaps I should
have been AMPLY warned of the dangers that I would be undertaking.

But, even that falls under my resposibility - I should have researched
further.

If what I had was a pretty typical rafting trip (as others have said to
me) - then I just can't understand why anyone would be willing to put their
life on the line for the thrill of whitewater.

I DO take adventurous chances - including Mt. Everest.

But even with had, I had a great deal of control about my fate. With my
whitewater trip, I felt as if I had no control at all.

Thanks, though, for your comments!


"Jon C" wrote in message
.. .
Sounds like you had no business rafting big water to begin with. Or,
for that matter, in a raft at all.

Why on earth would you go whitewater rafting and then bitch about

swimming?


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Old August 9th 04, 01:05 PM
Jon C
 
Posts: n/a
Default Near Deaths on the Lower Gauley

Celia Oblinger wrote:

Believe it or not, I'm not actually bitching about it.

I knew going in of the possibility of having to swim - I just hadn't done my
homework on the dangers that I would be accepting, and experiencing.

Bitching, I am not. Perheps my trip is nothing particularly out of the
ordinary - and if that is the answer, then this is what I want to know.

I'm not bitching about having to swim - I just wonder if it could have been
avoided. It was very dangerous in the areas into which we were thrown. If it
could have been avoided, then hopefully I could pass this information along,
in a constructive manner - so it would be better for other people down the
road.

My only "complaint" if you want to call it that - is that perhaps I should
have been AMPLY warned of the dangers that I would be undertaking.

But, even that falls under my resposibility - I should have researched
further.

If what I had was a pretty typical rafting trip (as others have said to
me) - then I just can't understand why anyone would be willing to put their
life on the line for the thrill of whitewater.

I DO take adventurous chances - including Mt. Everest.

But even with had, I had a great deal of control about my fate. With my
whitewater trip, I felt as if I had no control at all.

Thanks, though, for your comments!



Whitewater is dangerous. That's why it's fun. By climbing into a raft
you accept the possibility that you could fall off the raft, and
obviously the water is not an overly safe place to be.

If you didn't realize that while you were putting on your PFD, climbing
into the raft, or grabbing the paddle - especially if it wasn't your
first time - then you are beyond hope.

Get some common sense. You fell out of a raft on some whitewater, you
swam for a bit, maybe in a hole or two, then you got pulled back in.
Wow, that scenario is so far beyond the realm of possibility that I am
amazed it happened, and can't blame you for not thinking it might!

Jesus.
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Old August 9th 04, 04:38 PM
peteg
 
Posts: n/a
Default Near Deaths on the Lower Gauley

Celia,

I haven't done the Lower Gauley but I wonder how dangerous your swim really
was. I know unexpected swims seem like Life and Death but they very rarely
are. I'm pretty sure the danger on the Lower Gauley is considerably less
than climbing Mt. Everest or even the chance of dying in a car accident. The
cool thing about whitewater is that it doesn't "seem" like you have any
control over your fate. It is powerful stuff. That is why it is challenging
and fun.

Having said that, it sounds like either you didn't convey your anxiety about
rafting to the company and guide very well or they didn't do a good job
responding to your anxiety. This could be typical for this company (ie bad
customer service) or it might just have been a busy day and they messed up.
I know that most companies offer a very beginner trip (ie class 2 and 3) and
I would suggest you try one of these trips. Also, spend some more time
talking with several companies in detail about what to expect on your trip.
If they don't spend time on the phone talking about your expectations of the
trip then you probably don't want to raft with them.

Also, many guides do joke about not knowing the river and such. Only rarely
is that the case. I don't know what was true in this situation. Again, it
doesn't sound like your guide or the raft company knew how nervous you where
or ignored that because the danger of the trip wasn't nearly as high as it
seemed to you.

Unfortunately, it is very common for people that have this reaction to
swimming to respond with "I didn't realize the danger I was putting myself
into!". That is why rafting companies have safety talks and liability
waivers. Unfortunately, many people think that it won't happen to them or
that the guide will always prevent anything from happening to them. This is
an unfortunatel belief.

Hope you try it again on a gentler river trip and have fun this time.

pete


"Celia Oblinger" wrote in message
...
Believe it or not, I'm not actually bitching about it.

I knew going in of the possibility of having to swim - I just hadn't done

my
homework on the dangers that I would be accepting, and experiencing.

Bitching, I am not. Perheps my trip is nothing particularly out of the
ordinary - and if that is the answer, then this is what I want to know.

I'm not bitching about having to swim - I just wonder if it could have

been
avoided. It was very dangerous in the areas into which we were thrown. If

it
could have been avoided, then hopefully I could pass this information

along,
in a constructive manner - so it would be better for other people down the
road.

My only "complaint" if you want to call it that - is that perhaps I should
have been AMPLY warned of the dangers that I would be undertaking.

But, even that falls under my resposibility - I should have researched
further.

If what I had was a pretty typical rafting trip (as others have said to
me) - then I just can't understand why anyone would be willing to put

their
life on the line for the thrill of whitewater.

I DO take adventurous chances - including Mt. Everest.

But even with had, I had a great deal of control about my fate. With my
whitewater trip, I felt as if I had no control at all.

Thanks, though, for your comments!


"Jon C" wrote in message
.. .
Sounds like you had no business rafting big water to begin wi th.Or,
for that matter, in a raft at all.

Why on earth would you go whitewater rafting and then bitch about

swimming?






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Old August 10th 04, 05:14 AM
Celia Oblinger
 
Posts: n/a
Default Near Deaths on the Lower Gauley

I totally agree with you.

There was a lot that I didn't take into consideration, or even investigate
thoroughly, before I signed on to the trip. And that was TOTALLY my own
fault.

I'm not trying to place the blame on anyone, especially not our guide who
saved my life.

After talking with several folks on this and another newsgroup, I have
learned that most of the trip was pretty normal.

Other people have answered a lot of my questions. And that's really all that
I wanted.

I wasn't bitching or complaining - just asking questions.

So I'm not "beyond hope". I'm a lot smarter now, and much more well
informed - because a lot of people have answered my questions - rather than
criticizing me.

But I appreciate your comments as well, so thank you!

"Jon C" wrote in message
.. .
Celia Oblinger wrote:

Believe it or not, I'm not actually bitching about it.

I knew going in of the possibility of having to swim - I just hadn't

done my
homework on the dangers that I would be accepting, and experiencing.

Bitching, I am not. Perheps my trip is nothing particularly out of the
ordinary - and if that is the answer, then this is what I want to know.

I'm not bitching about having to swim - I just wonder if it could have

been
avoided. It was very dangerous in the areas into which we were thrown.

If it
could have been avoided, then hopefully I could pass this information

along,
in a constructive manner - so it would be better for other people down

the
road.

My only "complaint" if you want to call it that - is that perhaps I

should
have been AMPLY warned of the dangers that I would be undertaking.

But, even that falls under my resposibility - I should have researched
further.

If what I had was a pretty typical rafting trip (as others have said to
me) - then I just can't understand why anyone would be willing to put

their
life on the line for the thrill of whitewater.

I DO take adventurous chances - including Mt. Everest.

But even with had, I had a great deal of control about my fate. With my
whitewater trip, I felt as if I had no control at all.

Thanks, though, for your comments!



Whitewater is dangerous. That's why it's fun. By climbing into a raft
you accept the possibility that you could fall off the raft, and
obviously the water is not an overly safe place to be.

If you didn't realize that while you were putting on your PFD, climbing
into the raft, or grabbing the paddle - especially if it wasn't your
first time - then you are beyond hope.

Get some common sense. You fell out of a raft on some whitewater, you
swam for a bit, maybe in a hole or two, then you got pulled back in.
Wow, that scenario is so far beyond the realm of possibility that I am
amazed it happened, and can't blame you for not thinking it might!

Jesus.



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Old August 10th 04, 05:23 AM
Celia Oblinger
 
Posts: n/a
Default Near Deaths on the Lower Gauley

Pete,

Many thanks for your kind comments - they are appreciated!

You are absolutely right - the reason that I was so frightened was because
for those few minutes, I felt like I had absolutely no control over my life.
I was toally at the mercy of nature. THAT, to me, was scary.

Our guide, however, did fully understand not only my apprehensions and
anxiety, but those of my girlfriend as well - as we were his only guests. He
had some sort of an "assistant" with him - but we were the only two paying
guests on our particular raft.

He KNEW how terrified we had become as the trip progressed. But, right or
wrong, it didn't seem to make any difference to him. My friend actually
thinks that he tipped our boat just for fun. Maybe. Maybe not. But, if he
was going to do that, this seemed like a bad choice of a location to
intentionally go swimming.

You are right - the "danger" that I felt was many times amplifed over what
it should have been. Or at least how other people, from their frame of
reference, percevied it.

A lot of this was MY problem - not anyone else's.

Maybe I will try rafting again. And then, maybe not.

But one thing is for su I did have an experience that I will remember for
a lifetime!

Thanks, Pete!









"peteg" wrote in message
...
Celia,

I haven't done the Lower Gauley but I wonder how dangerous your swim

really
was. I know unexpected swims seem like Life and Death but they very rarely
are. I'm pretty sure the danger on the Lower Gauley is considerably less
than climbing Mt. Everest or even the chance of dying in a car accident.

The
cool thing about whitewater is that it doesn't "seem" like you have any
control over your fate. It is powerful stuff. That is why it is

challenging
and fun.

Having said that, it sounds like either you didn't convey your anxiety

about
rafting to the company and guide very well or they didn't do a good job
responding to your anxiety. This could be typical for this company (ie bad
customer service) or it might just have been a busy day and they messed

up.
I know that most companies offer a very beginner trip (ie class 2 and 3)

and
I would suggest you try one of these trips. Also, spend some more time
talking with several companies in detail about what to expect on your

trip.
If they don't spend time on the phone talking about your expectations of

the
trip then you probably don't want to raft with them.

Also, many guides do joke about not knowing the river and such. Only

rarely
is that the case. I don't know what was true in this situation. Again, it
doesn't sound like your guide or the raft company knew how nervous you

where
or ignored that because the danger of the trip wasn't nearly as high as it
seemed to you.

Unfortunately, it is very common for people that have this reaction to
swimming to respond with "I didn't realize the danger I was putting myself
into!". That is why rafting companies have safety talks and liability
waivers. Unfortunately, many people think that it won't happen to them or
that the guide will always prevent anything from happening to them. This

is
an unfortunatel belief.

Hope you try it again on a gentler river trip and have fun this time.

pete


"Celia Oblinger" wrote in message
...
Believe it or not, I'm not actually bitching about it.

I knew going in of the possibility of having to swim - I just hadn't

done
my
homework on the dangers that I would be accepting, and experiencing.

Bitching, I am not. Perheps my trip is nothing particularly out of the
ordinary - and if that is the answer, then this is what I want to know.

I'm not bitching about having to swim - I just wonder if it could have

been
avoided. It was very dangerous in the areas into which we were thrown.

If
it
could have been avoided, then hopefully I could pass this information

along,
in a constructive manner - so it would be better for other people down

the
road.

My only "complaint" if you want to call it that - is that perhaps I

should
have been AMPLY warned of the dangers that I would be undertaking.

But, even that falls under my resposibility - I should have researched
further.

If what I had was a pretty typical rafting trip (as others have said to
me) - then I just can't understand why anyone would be willing to put

their
life on the line for the thrill of whitewater.

I DO take adventurous chances - including Mt. Everest.

But even with had, I had a great deal of control about my fate. With my
whitewater trip, I felt as if I had no control at all.

Thanks, though, for your comments!


"Jon C" wrote in message
.. .
Sounds like you had no business rafting big water to begin wi th.Or,
for that matter, in a raft at all.

Why on earth would you go whitewater rafting and then bitch about

swimming?






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Old August 10th 04, 05:14 PM
J. A. M.
 
Posts: n/a
Default Near Deaths on the Lower Gauley

Celia Oblinger wrote:

The number one thing that I want to stress here is that - my friend and I had no business WHATSOEVER rafting on any part of the Gauley River.

I had rafted on the Ocoee ONCE before, with no mishaps, and no swimming - but I am NOT a rafter.

My friend had NO whitewater rafting experience.

And, like the rafting company ad said, this trip was even OK for novices........

And just FYI, I am a 52 year-old woman who regularly runs long distance competitive events. My friend is a 34 year-old woman who primarily leads an "inactive" life - but she is very strong - and has more strength to paddle than I do.

However, I want to detail to you how we both almost lost our lives on the Lower Gauley this past Friday, August 6.

Even though we had no business on this river in the first place, we both now question whether and how our near death experiences could have been prevented.

But most of all, if we could prevent anyone else from experiencing what we would - that is our goal.

For the sake of anonymity, I will call the rafting compnay ABC Rafting, and I will refer to two of the guides as Brad and Chuck.

Could this have been prevented?????

We arrived at ABC Rafting company well ahead of schedule. We registered, and soon Brad came over, told us he would be our guide, and he told us that we would soon be shown a safety video. The place were packed, and we were both excited our rafting trip!

Well, the place soon cleared out, and there was only my friend and I left. Apparently, all of the other people had been signed up for one of the New River trip.

Brad came back over and told us that we were waiting on a group of seven people who had mistakenly gone out with another group. They would soon be returning, and then we would be on our way.

Finally, the group of seven returned. We were all led out to get our life jackets, paddle, and helmets. I asked Brad about the safety video, but he said that he would explain everything to us on the bus.

Brad then told us that my friend and I would be in a boat with just our guide, Chuck. There would be only three of us.

Shortly after that, Chuck came over and said that Charlene would be going with us. I guess that Charlene would act sort of as an assistant.

So there was four of us that would be doing the Lower Gauley. I just casually remembered that when I had done the Ocoee, that it was a larger boat, and that there had been, I believe, a total of nine of us, including the guide. However, the only research that I had done prior to signing my friend and I up for this trip was - research on the rafting companies available. I should have done more research on whitewater rafting in general, and on the Gauley River in particular. This was my GRAVE
mistake.

At any rate, we were off on our adventure!

And, Brad DID go over all of the preliminaries on the bus ride over. My friend and I both asked him to repeat some things over, and he did. We listened, asked questions, and had it all down......

Our "mishap" happened on Heaven Help Me/Us, right before Heaven's Gate.

Up to this point, we had finally begun to paddle "together" (We were both sitting in front, as per the Chuck's instructions, and Charlene was sitting in the middle location, in front of Chuck - and we made it just fine across what were terrifying Class III, IV, and close to Class V waves. We were getting the hang of it. But, yet, NEITHER of us wanted to "go swimming". THAT thought terrified us both. We both realized, before we ever got to Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate - that we were in
over our heads.

And the next several items are what now concern us both the most:

1.)

Several comments had been made that - Chuck, our guide, had just gotten out from spending a year in prison. One of these comments was made before the bus even left for the take out, and another while we were stopped for lunch. Jokes??? I don't know. Brad did warn us that our guides would be making jokes all day, and that we should learn how to differentiate jokes from the truth.

2.)

Both Chuck, our guide, and Charlene, his assistant - REPEATEDLY told us that they had no recent experience on the Gauley - that neither of them had even been on it in over a year. They BOTH kept repeating it - and acted like it was a "badge of honor". Chuck reassured us, however, that he knew how to "read" the water......

3.)

I looked back several times, right before a huge set of waves - and Chuck, our guide, was STANDING UP, yelling "Yoo hoo!" Please tell me - is STANDING UP OK? Is this customarily done by guides?? If so, then I won't feel so bad - but, quite frankly, it scared me absolutely to death.

4.)

Chuck spent so much time talking and conversing with Charlene - that my friend and I had terrific problems determining what were paddling commands - and what were conversations with Charlene. THIS was not acceptable. We both listened very carefully to everything he said - and attempted to follow precisely what he said to do. But, it was hard.......

None of would have mattered, probably, in the end, if both my friend and I had not come so close to death between Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate.....

Just FYI, I have researched it - and I believe that Chuck's skills in navigating those particular waves was CORRECT. He did navigate left of center.

But as soon as we got left of center, both my friend and I were thrown completely out of the raft, into the air.

I can't speak for her, but she did go UNDER a rock - and was rescued by another ABC Rafting boat rafting with us, guided by Brad. There are parts that she doesn't remember - just like me.

But what happened to me, in the order that I remember them, is this:

1.) Being way in front of the boat, with our guide, Chuck, reaching out the T-grip end of the paddle to me. But I was being swept, rapidly, down stream. Trying to catch the T-Grip, but being too far away - and being swept away. I just knew that this was it. I was a complete goner.

2.) Then, a period that I don't remember - until I slammed into a rock. I, just for a second, remember Chuck in the boat, pointing for me to go away from the rock, to the left. (The rock was, going downstream, feet first, face up, on the left.)

3.) Then, a period that I don't remember. Just going under, trying to get back up.

4.) Finally, Chuck trying to grab me up by my life jacket into the boat - but I couldn't breath - as the life jacket had slid up - and was blocking all air.

Finally, I, by whatever miracle, was placed back into the boat. I asked about my friend, and she had been rescused by Brad into his boat.

I don't care what sort of errors, or misconduct, that I had thought that Chuck had done up to this point - HE SAVED MY LIFE. And he saved the life of someone who should never have been on that river to begin with. This man saved my life - absolutely - and I will forever be grateful to him.

Needless to say, both my friend and I were terrified for the remainder of the trip.

One thing that I do want to mention: My friend and I had asked Chuck, after lunch, but before Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate, if anyone had ever died rafting on the Lower Gauley. Granted, this was an extremelly stupid question. It was stupid because I should have done the research before I ever signed my friend and I up for the trip. But, Chuck shouldn't have lied either. He told us that, NO, no one had ever died rafting on the Lower Gauley.......

We remained completely terrified - and I even asked Chuck about the possibilities of getting a helicopter in there and getting out. Neither my friend or I wanted to continue the trip.

But Chuck told us that this was not possible - that the only way to the end - was by means of the raft.

OK. My friend and I had made a huge mistake by signing up for this trip. But I don't want other people to be allowed to make the same mistkae and live through the terror that we lived through.

We both just constantly prayed all the way from Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate - to the final last 3-1/2 miles of flat water.

Neither of us have ever been through so much terror - and we would never want anyone else to experience this either, unnecessarily.

Even though we shouldn't have been on that trip, do you think that the guide was OK??? Even after we were both back in the boat, and in definite trauma - he JUST KEPT TALKING about how this was his and Charlene's first time on this river in over a year!!! He did absolutely nothing to make us feel any better. It was almost as if he was trying to "push the envelope" as hard as he could.

Does anyone have any comments about this scenario at all????

Many thanks in advance.











Sounds like a typical day on a class 4 river.

JAM
  #9   Report Post  
Old August 18th 04, 04:43 AM
Steve Parker
 
Posts: n/a
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Celia,

I feel most alive when close to death.

I make it a point NOT to subject others to this experience
unless they agree to the risks.

If this is not your cup of tea please stick to badminton.

Banzai!
Sparky

"Celia Oblinger" wrote in message ...
The number one thing that I want to stress here is that - my friend and I had no business WHATSOEVER rafting on any part of the Gauley River.

I had rafted on the Ocoee ONCE before, with no mishaps, and no swimming - but I am NOT a rafter.

My friend had NO whitewater rafting experience.

And, like the rafting company ad said, this trip was even OK for novices........

And just FYI, I am a 52 year-old woman who regularly runs long distance competitive events. My friend is a 34 year-old woman who primarily leads an "inactive" life - but she is very strong - and has more strength to paddle than I do.

However, I want to detail to you how we both almost lost our lives on the Lower Gauley this past Friday, August 6.

Even though we had no business on this river in the first place, we both now question whether and how our near death experiences could have been prevented.

But most of all, if we could prevent anyone else from experiencing what we would - that is our goal.

For the sake of anonymity, I will call the rafting compnay ABC Rafting, and I will refer to two of the guides as Brad and Chuck.

Could this have been prevented?????

We arrived at ABC Rafting company well ahead of schedule. We registered, and soon Brad came over, told us he would be our guide, and he told us that we would soon be shown a safety video. The place were packed, and we were both excited our rafting trip!

Well, the place soon cleared out, and there was only my friend and I left. Apparently, all of the other people had been signed up for one of the New River trip.

Brad came back over and told us that we were waiting on a group of seven people who had mistakenly gone out with another group. They would soon be returning, and then we would be on our way.

Finally, the group of seven returned. We were all led out to get our life jackets, paddle, and helmets. I asked Brad about the safety video, but he said that he would explain everything to us on the bus.

Brad then told us that my friend and I would be in a boat with just our guide, Chuck. There would be only three of us.

Shortly after that, Chuck came over and said that Charlene would be going with us. I guess that Charlene would act sort of as an assistant.

So there was four of us that would be doing the Lower Gauley. I just casually remembered that when I had done the Ocoee, that it was a larger boat, and that there had been, I believe, a total of nine of us, including the guide. However, the only research that I had done prior to signing my friend and I up for this trip was - research on the rafting companies available. I should have done more research on whitewater rafting in general, and on the Gauley River in particular. This was my GRAVE mistake.

At any rate, we were off on our adventure!

And, Brad DID go over all of the preliminaries on the bus ride over. My friend and I both asked him to repeat some things over, and he did. We listened, asked questions, and had it all down......

Our "mishap" happened on Heaven Help Me/Us, right before Heaven's Gate.

Up to this point, we had finally begun to paddle "together" (We were both sitting in front, as per the Chuck's instructions, and Charlene was sitting in the middle location, in front of Chuck - and we made it just fine across what were terrifying Class III, IV, and close to Class V waves. We were getting the hang of it. But, yet, NEITHER of us wanted to "go swimming". THAT thought terrified us both. We both realized, before we ever got to Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate - that we were in over our heads.

And the next several items are what now concern us both the most:

1.)

Several comments had been made that - Chuck, our guide, had just gotten out from spending a year in prison. One of these comments was made before the bus even left for the take out, and another while we were stopped for lunch. Jokes??? I don't know. Brad did warn us that our guides would be making jokes all day, and that we should learn how to differentiate jokes from the truth.

2.)

Both Chuck, our guide, and Charlene, his assistant - REPEATEDLY told us that they had no recent experience on the Gauley - that neither of them had even been on it in over a year. They BOTH kept repeating it - and acted like it was a "badge of honor". Chuck reassured us, however, that he knew how to "read" the water......

3.)

I looked back several times, right before a huge set of waves - and Chuck, our guide, was STANDING UP, yelling "Yoo hoo!" Please tell me - is STANDING UP OK? Is this customarily done by guides?? If so, then I won't feel so bad - but, quite frankly, it scared me absolutely to death.

4.)

Chuck spent so much time talking and conversing with Charlene - that my friend and I had terrific problems determining what were paddling commands - and what were conversations with Charlene. THIS was not acceptable. We both listened very carefully to everything he said - and attempted to follow precisely what he said to do. But, it was hard.......

None of would have mattered, probably, in the end, if both my friend and I had not come so close to death between Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate.....

Just FYI, I have researched it - and I believe that Chuck's skills in navigating those particular waves was CORRECT. He did navigate left of center.

But as soon as we got left of center, both my friend and I were thrown completely out of the raft, into the air.

I can't speak for her, but she did go UNDER a rock - and was rescued by another ABC Rafting boat rafting with us, guided by Brad. There are parts that she doesn't remember - just like me.

But what happened to me, in the order that I remember them, is this:

1.) Being way in front of the boat, with our guide, Chuck, reaching out the T-grip end of the paddle to me. But I was being swept, rapidly, down stream. Trying to catch the T-Grip, but being too far away - and being swept away. I just knew that this was it. I was a complete goner.

2.) Then, a period that I don't remember - until I slammed into a rock. I, just for a second, remember Chuck in the boat, pointing for me to go away from the rock, to the left. (The rock was, going downstream, feet first, face up, on the left.)

3.) Then, a period that I don't remember. Just going under, trying to get back up.

4.) Finally, Chuck trying to grab me up by my life jacket into the boat - but I couldn't breath - as the life jacket had slid up - and was blocking all air.

Finally, I, by whatever miracle, was placed back into the boat. I asked about my friend, and she had been rescused by Brad into his boat.

I don't care what sort of errors, or misconduct, that I had thought that Chuck had done up to this point - HE SAVED MY LIFE. And he saved the life of someone who should never have been on that river to begin with. This man saved my life - absolutely - and I will forever be grateful to him.

Needless to say, both my friend and I were terrified for the remainder of the trip.

One thing that I do want to mention: My friend and I had asked Chuck, after lunch, but before Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate, if anyone had ever died rafting on the Lower Gauley. Granted, this was an extremelly stupid question. It was stupid because I should have done the research before I ever signed my friend and I up for the trip. But, Chuck shouldn't have lied either. He told us that, NO, no one had ever died rafting on the Lower Gauley.......

We remained completely terrified - and I even asked Chuck about the possibilities of getting a helicopter in there and getting out. Neither my friend or I wanted to continue the trip.

But Chuck told us that this was not possible - that the only way to the end - was by means of the raft.

OK. My friend and I had made a huge mistake by signing up for this trip. But I don't want other people to be allowed to make the same mistkae and live through the terror that we lived through.

We both just constantly prayed all the way from Heaven Help Me/Us - Heaven's Gate - to the final last 3-1/2 miles of flat water.

Neither of us have ever been through so much terror - and we would never want anyone else to experience this either, unnecessarily.

Even though we shouldn't have been on that trip, do you think that the guide was OK??? Even after we were both back in the boat, and in definite trauma - he JUST KEPT TALKING about how this was his and Charlene's first time on this river in over a year!!! He did absolutely nothing to make us feel any better. It was almost as if he was trying to "push the envelope" as hard as he could.

Does anyone have any comments about this scenario at all????

Many thanks in advance.












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