By the time our bus arrived at the put-in spot for my first white-water rafting trip, I was convinced the guide was speaking only to me when he advised there was no shame in turning back.
After all, he had spent most of the ride outlining all the possible dangers to be found on this lower part of the wild New River, the centerpiece of the United States’ newest national park.
What I recall most clearly were “Don’t panic!” and “Don’t stand up!” Both were instructions for what to do if a torrent of water tossed you out of the raft and into the boulder-studded river.
But, with an uneasy stomach, I decided there was no turning back. I had always thrilled to videos of white-water rafting I had seen over the years. Now in my mid-60s, I knew if I didn’t go for it here, this would end up being an adventure that passed me by for good. And besides, I’d already put on the wet suit, splash jacket and life vest.
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