TUMBLING DOWN THE THOMPSON
My husband, Brent, is one of those domestic guys. Without being nagged he'll do the vacuuming, cooking –even the laundry. So on this adventure, when we get agitated by the washboard spin, churned up in the garburator and spewed out of the roiling cauldron, he manages to keeps his cool. It's the Terminator that finally gets his vocal chords going. Not a surprise –he's a bit of a wuss when it comes to thrillers.
We're just south of Lytton BC, tumbling down the Thompson on a Kumsheen river raft. And to me all twenty-five of the roller coaster rapids are screamers.
"Hang on tight, Team," Simon yells over the thunderous roar of flow, "and let's take on this big boy!"
Our Australian guide has more vigor than Crocodile Dundee, and we feel like his trainees when powering through the mammoth wall of water known appropriately as ‘The Shocker.' Gasps escape all twelve of our gaping mouths, and in spite of our protective yellow slickers, we're soon wetter than a dozen sailors.
"It's time to shift," we're told, after resurfacing to calmer swirls. With a mischievous grin, Simon circles the swirling vortex until we're, once again, at its electrifying start gate. And after shuffling forwards, we have two new brave hearts at the bow.
This procession of rotating to the front dunk-tank seats occurs throughout the day and while hugging tight to white-tipped torrents we catapult waves like a pack of pole vaulters.
Even when confronted, face to face with the wettest and wildest, our leader's knowledge and competency instills total confidence. His certified expertise is a universal standard that Kumsheen Rafting Resort ensures, and that's why, since 1973, they've enticed thousands of riders to hop on board .
The resort's home base is scenically terraced above the raging torrents, just six kilometers (4 miles) east of Lytton. Ponderosa Pines and sun-bleached sage embrace the property's quaint canvas cabins that overlook the limestone cliffs of White Canyon. Each one is decked out with a fanfare of memorabilia depicting their titles, such as Gold Miners Shanty, Pit House, and The Last Spike. On the previous night, we had slept in the Chinese Cabin, and were intrigued with its heirloom treasures and historical tales.
Meandering trails lead from these humble abodes to other playful pastimes –pool, hot tub, volley and basketball courts. And waiting beyond are the buoyant rafts that take riders, ranging in age from eight to eighty, on a tumbling trip down the Thompson.
After getting up close and personal with ‘Shocker' and other heart-thumping rapids like the ‘Tunnels of Love,' we pull into Nicomen Falls for a bite of lunch and bit of river reprieve. Sun rays sear through the thin cloud cover just in time to dry out our waterlogged windbreakers, and after devouring savory salads, chicken fajitas, and scrumptious carrot cake, it's time to go with the flow again.
At first, the ride is literally a breeze, and while drifting languidly through gentle swirls the sun provides a warm embrace. We brush up to steep-sided canyons where grand monoliths and weather riveted hoodoos hover over us like watchful sentinels. We pass by snaking railcars that trace the footsteps of time as they cleave their way through granite-gouged tunnels. And we ogle over the kaleidoscope of wild life that includes eagles, mule deer and nimble big horn sheep.
The canyon vistas are jaw-dropping and spectators along highway 1 also stop to take in the beauty. They seem intrigued as they watch us roll with the relaxing river. Maybe it's because, from their position, they can see what's coming up. "OK team, it's time to get a grip," Simon hollers with excitement, "and with both hands!"
While following our leader's command, we encounter roller coaster rapids that buck us like a mechanical bull. We're gobbled up by the Jaws of Death, sucked into the Green Hole vortex and blended in the Witches Cauldron. Throughout the day our adrenaline flows faster than the river's flow and our heart rates escalate with every surge. And when it comes to the Terminator –well you already know what Brent's response is to this wave action. And my vocal chords get another workout too!
IF YOU GO:
Kumsheen Raft Adventures Ltd
PHOTOS: As indicated below
1. Ripping up the River – photo Compliments of Kumsheen
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