A 5000 Miles of Wild Story – Molly Harrison Overcomes her Fear of Big Rapids While Surrounded by Experts at the APA Roundup 2017
Story by Molly Harrison, video by Andy Darling, photo by Dan Ransom
We had a large group on the Snake River on this day, and with the river pumping at 16,000cfs, we knew Lunch Counter Rapid would be the highlight of our run. Funneled between two large rock protrusions, Lunch Counter is a rapid made up of a large wave train that rips through this narrow channel. Approaching the deafening roar, our group eddied out and climbed up the counter formation to scout our line. As the more experienced paddlers pointed out the hazards and nuances of the rapid, my heart pounded in my chest.
Was I really about to huck myself into that huge front wave? I had never done anything like this before, and the chance of swimming seemed inevitable. Was I ready for the possibility of being sucked into those powerful eddy lines? The queasy feeling in my stomach sure made it feel like I wasn’t ready- that I’d never be ready! But with my hands clenched tight on my paddle, knees shaking, and my yellow helmet strapped on tight, I followed Alpacka Raft Director of Outreach Sarah Tingey as she pulled out into the current with confidence.
As I wove through that first wave and found myself somehow still upright in my little boat, I was astonished. Honestly, big water scares me. Paddling whitewater wasn’t even something I thought of as a possibility when I first bought a packraft. It wasn’t until last year’s American Packrafting Association Roundup, when I was surrounded by this large group of encouraging and experienced paddlers, that I even considered trying to run something out of my comfort zone. I’m so thankful to have this supportive community of packrafters to learn from and grow with–here’s to playing boats with all our friends! Hope to see you at this year’s Roundup in beautiful Carbondale, Colorado.