Vikram our raft expert was giving instructions on a serious note. The light banter of the day before was completing missing. I had no idea what had caused the change! But it did not take me long to find out!
We were rafting from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh (in Uttarakhand, India) on the Ganges. I was part of a large group, we were in seven rafts. There were six of us in my raft apart from Vikram, our expert. And all of us were good at following instructions. Vikram had told us about a rapid called “The Wall” but as I didn’t know what a grade 3 + rapid meant, I was least bothered.
We started off gently down the river, as usual indulging in water fights and other pranks.
After a while Vikram became serious and asked us to pay attention. We were about to cross ‘The Wall.’ When we hit the rapid we got drenched within seconds. But we kept rowing with all our might. It felt that the water was reluctant to let us part. But after some struggle we were on the other side of ‘The Wall’ (click on the link to see a Youtube video of a raft overturning at The Wall).
We were the second raft to attempt the crossing. When we were safe on the other side we saw that the first raft had overturned and every one was thrown out in the water. We had been given instructions about things to do in such a situation. The first was not to panic as everyone was wearing a life jacket. The other important instruction was to swim/float to the shallow side of the river, towards the bank.
We now turned back only to see that the third raft had also flipped at ‘The Wall’ and there were paddles and paddles floating in the water. There were people too. By now our eyes were glued to the rapid. The fourth raft did not overturn but everyone got thrown out none the less. More paddle and people in the water by now. The fifth raft overturned and once again there were even more people and paddles in the water. By now our kayak team was working overtime.
We though that the final raft would pull through. It started cresting on the wave but ‘The Wall’ had other ideas. This raft also met the same fate as others. By now all the seven rafts were accounted for and only our raft had people in it. We looked in amazement at the scene. Gradually people started regrouping and four rafts proceeded once again. After a short distance our experts decided to bank and wait for the other three to join us.
As soon as we got had our feet firmly planted on land, the stories started pouring in, who drank how much water, who thought they would not make it and more such stuff. One young lad told us, “When I got sucked under water I tried not to panic, because that is what they told us. But when I got dragged the third time, I decided I am going to panic, and only after that I surfaced.”
I enjoyed an expert’s story most. He said in a slow drawl, “Don’t you think the rapid gives you enough time to ponder under water? I went down thinking, where is my boat, where are my clients, I need not worry about the paddles, someone will pick them up and only then did I surface out of the water again!”
It was getting quite late and there was no sign of other rafts. There was no cell phone signal in the area. After an hour and half the entire group was reunited. Some among us decided they had enough of rafting by now. We got to know that two people got stuck on the right side of the river along the cliffs and it took about 50 minutes to rescue them.
The stretch after this offered no fresh surprises. Even though some time has lapsed since I went on this trip, I have to say it was completely an Alive is Awesome experience.
PS. I got the first gift hamper from Cinthol. This post is a part of the Alive is Awesome Bathing Experience by Cinthol. My younger nephew is now using the iPod which was there in the hamper. And my daughter ran around with all the Cinthol Soaps and the Deo.
She is of the age when anything new has to be tried instantly. Before I could do anything she tore open two soaps and deposited it in her bathroom. These days when she takes a bath she insists that it has to be with the green soap! I have managed to hide the other soaps, out of her reach, when she got distracted for a while.
When I showed this picture to a friend, he asked, “So did you go down screaming?” To my “no” he added, “I would, because what if that was the last thing I did in life!” I had no such thoughts when I took off that ledge. But the question remains, why did I do it? I obviously have no clear answers. By my day job I am an Associate Professor and people usually do not associate their teachers with adventure travel.
I have to admit I do not go out seeking adventures, they just find me! I was originally not scheduled to go on this trip but at the last moment I had to replace someone! I am not complaining though. It was a rafting trip to Kaudiyala in Uttarakhand. On day one we did the gentle stretch between Devprayag and Kaudiyala. At mid point the organizers (Rimo Expeditions) asked if we would like to do cliff jumping and a lot of us were game.
I still remember very clearly how it felt standing there. In the picture it may not seem very steep but to me who was standing on the edge it looked very high! There were a few who actually walked back from the edge. So when I stood there the person in charge (the first person standing on the ledge towards the water) Gunpalji asked if I really wanted to do it? When I firmly said yes, he asked me to hold the straps of the life jacket or else my hands would hurt when I fell in the water. With a gentle nudge from him I was on my way! It was all over in a few seconds but for the deeply itched memories!
My colleague also asked, “why didn’t you turn back? My answer was, “because there were too many students!”
You see, this was a college trip and I was one of the members of the academic staff on this trip! Many thanks to one of my students who clicked this picture and shared it with me.
This post is part of Alive is Awesome Bathing Experience for Cinthol.
Before I left for trekking I wanted to do the same, climb up high on a tree and sit quietly. Hopefully I will come back in a more reasonable mood.
When I was rafting the cameras would be inside the safe bag on the raft as it was water proof. And it would come out only in clam waters. So when we crossed ‘The Wall’ after Kaudiyala there are no pictures or videos of it. I was writing the article for Gonomad today (yes I have sent both Della and Rafting accounts now to them) and I thought of searching for the videos on youtube about ‘The Wall’ a grade 3 plus rapid. And sure enough there are quite a few videos.
Have a look at the one above. There were seven rafts that started from Rimo Expeditions. We reached ‘The Wall’ very soon. 6 out of 7 rafts met the same fate as shown in the video. Our’s was the only raft that crossed ‘The Wall’ and still had people inside it! What an experience it was.