I woke up this morning to the sound of rain, and although I was lying safely in bed next to my wife, the rain took me back to that dark morning on the river two days ago, and my heart raced and my throat choked a little. As I fought the swelling in my chest, I noticed that my leg was trembling slightly. Hoping not to wake my wife, I laid there for several minutes and thought about the river.
It’d been 48 hours since the flash flood that almost killed us on the Pecos, and I thought the slight emotional upheavals had subsided, but, I wasn’t expecting to be woken by the sound of rain, much like that morning on the river, and the rainfall brought it all back with a vengeance.
I replayed it in my mind: the frantic shout from Ryan after he got the news on the satellite phone that the river was rising (I’m now convinced that the call saved our lives); the chaotic scramble of four men breaking down camp in pouring rain with just enough light to not run into each other on the crowded rock ledge; the frantic stowing of gear in dry bags and in the hulls of our kayaks; the futile effort to pull the same kayaks up as high on the bank as we could and tie them to a weak looking tree, which was all we had; the walk down the bank to check on our primary escape route, which we had picked the night before; and the shock when we saw the route had been blocked by a torrent of water cascading from a draw in the canyon.
I think for me it was during the walk back to our camp, after having seen our escape route taken from us, when it first dawned on me that abandoning our kayaks was no longer our biggest problem; our lives were now in real danger.
In the short walk back to our camp, I thought about how unfair it was; after all, we’d planned carefully and done everything right. It also occurred to me that Dan and Ryan were too young to die; their whole lives were still in front of them. I thought about Scott who had a wife and two young children waiting for him and how his son would be going on a church mission the next day; and I thought about my own wife, and how someone would have to tell her that not only had she lost her husband but her oldest son as well.
Looking back now, I’m grateful we got back to camp quickly because the ensuing mad scramble to get out of the river canyon overcame the horrible thoughts in my head, and instead of thinking about what could happen, my mind became occupied just trying to get the hell off that river.
We obviously made it off, again, because of that warning call we got on the satellite phone, and I will be writing that story soon enough, but for now I guess I just need to figure out how to deal with the memories of that rain soaked Friday morning. Something tells me they’re going to be around for a while.
Lone Star Chronicles – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish