Steven Sideroff, a psychologist and friend from UCLA needs to get out of his box. In comes friends Hal Myers, Al Darbonne and myself to join in his adventure to raft down the mighty Tuolumne River as it sorties famous Yosemite National Park. Extraordinary 1000’ V shaped valleys carved out eons ago from glacier melt, the river rips through this canyon as it drops 70 to 100 feet per mile through slick Sierra bedrock. Eighteen miles of class 1 – 5 rapids. Today it is 110° F – but the water is freezing. A blanket wave of heat envelopes you one moment, but then the next white churning almost freezing water swells up and blasts you out of sight. Sweet it feels. Does life get any better? Three days running rapid after rapid, camping under Californian stars, listening all night to the constant roar of the Tuolumne only a few feet away.
Steven is writing a book about ‘Resilience’ and creating a program that Universities and medical clinics can apply to move people into a positive zone. He can imagine returning to the Tuolumne soon bringing patients and faculty together to run this river. Why – he loves it and this gets you out of your comfort zone ‘big time’. What better way to build bonds, trust and self-confidence than being a team in a tiny raft on a mighty big seething river.
Banging through Class V rapids early on our 2nd day brought out fear, passion and joy. All of us are white water amateurs yet inspired to experience new adventures and places. As Hal said –“ this is my first time off the grid in years.” Unfortunate for those who can’t or won’t taste the sweetness of Mother Nature at her finest. This is rattlesnake and cougar country, we keep our eyes peeled on the steep sun-burnt desert-like slopes facing both banks. Nothing moves except for the high flying hawks but our imaginations are peaked.
The river snakes, tumbles, caresses, pounds, pokes , careens and at least another thousand metaphors describing its flows around and over polished rock after shiny stone to the distant ocean. Its beauty and dancing movement hypnotizes you. The message: be inspired when you can, grab the moment when it comes, get out there and ‘go for it’. We have but one life – use it or lose it.
Tuolumne River, Calif