Here in Spokane we have the Spokane river running through our city. It’s not a huge river like the Columbia or Mississippi but it does get pretty good sized closer to where it joins up with the Columbia. It’s a pretty classic western river. A boulder strewn rough and tumble river with rolling rapids, deep holes and gentle riffles along the first 40 or so miles before it opens up into a traditional wide lazy river.
The river is especially violent during spring run off. All the mountains in the area drain into it generating an enormous volume of water. The river tends to reshape itself every year because of it. The rapids are especially attractive to the kayakers towards June when the spring melt start to taper off. The insane cold of the water is not so brutal, the water is not so high but the levels are such that the rapids are still roaring.
Six or seven years ago when I was down at my favorite hole fly fishing I watched a kayaker almost die. It was a hot, sunny, late afternoon towards the end of June on a section with decent rapids up about 100 yards from me. The water was still cold enough that the trout were still actively feeding. The spokane river is not known for it’s fly fishing. Good, because that means there is more of the most beautifully colored, NFL linebacker shouldered, insanely strong native Rainbows for me to catch.
Back to the kayaker. In between casts I’d watch him as he rode the rapids. As kayakers sometimes do he rolled upside down but I thought nothing of it. I’d seen them barrel roll before playing and practicing. I made another cast and slowly hand crawled my nymph in. When my fly was in I glanced upriver again and he was still upside down! I freaked knowing the guy was in trouble. He was alone in the water and it had been a good minute to minute and a half since I saw him roll. I knew he was caught in an undercurrent and I started running/hopping the rocks up stream with the intention of diving in after him. I kick my shoes off and was three quarters of the way to him when the kayak suddenly started floating down river. Immediately thereafter he popped up with a giant gasp for air. He made it to the opposite shore and collapsed watching his kayak, now three hundred yards downstream, float away.
I hollered across to him to make sure he was ok. He kind of waved me off, “Yeah, I’m fine” he said a little sheepishly. Despite his embarrassment you could tell he had a close call and he knew it. Well I was done fishing after that. That was too close to a tragedy for me. So now the question begs to be asked, why do I tell you this story fellow traveler?
Life right now is like the river during spring off. The extremes right now are like the rapids and riffles of the Spokane. It’s equal to about mid-june, so I’ve weathered the worst, but the water is still high and the river is still dangerous in places. The work situation I’ve been through before, so in that respect I’m like the kayaker in the midst of the rapids. Other current life situations are unfamiliar territory and I’m like the kayaker upside down doing his best to right himself. A daunting task with the volume of water pummeling you and and the swirling under tow pulling at you.
No problem, trust in myself and keeping my wits about me have served me well in the past and will again. The rapids are dangerous but I wouldn’t have attempted them if I didn’t think I could handle them. Like the kayaker that nearly drowned, “Yeah, I’m fine….”