About 4 years ago(maybe 5) during the summer, my now ex-brother-in-law invited me to do a little fishing north of Victoria in Cowichan river near Duncan. We never actually caught anything but we did see something that would lead me to many moments of future stupidity. We saw some people going down the river on inner tubes, drinking beer and having fun.
Several days later we went back to try this ourselves. My brother-in-law, two of his friends(one guy, one girl) and myself went on this trip. We took two cars because we were going to be smart. We would park one car at the spot where we wanted to end our trip and drive the other car farther up the road where we would get out and go into the river.
Before we got there we had to go and buy our inner tube rafts from Canadian Tire. The fact that we didn't get the tubes in advance should give you a clue as to our overall preparedness for this trip. We got the tubes and an air pump and went off for the river. We left one car at the bottom as planed and went about 2-3 miles up.
I was, in my mind, the most prepared for the trip. I brought a mini cooler with two bottles of Gatorade and some snacks. The drinks and snacks were good because the trip took a lot longer than we anticipated. The cooler however, was not such a good idea.
I expected it to be water resistant. That impression lasted about a minute after which the whole outer casing took on several pounds of water. I was also afraid of losing the cooler so I wore it around my neck. The cooler weight about 5 pounds with the extra water and it was dangling around my neck, waiting for an opportunity to strangle me. That opportunity came when I hit a fast patch of water and was facing the opposite direction of the river's current while the cooler got caught on the current and slid behind me. The weight of the cooler combined with the current created a cooler-noose that took a few moments of severe uneasiness to untangle and return myself to being an air breather. It's one thing to have a thought that you might die, it's another to know that if you died, it would be from a cooler filled with cheese and grapes. I think it only happened once but the lack of oxygen may have erased memories of other strangulations.
Along the way we saw a couple that was doing the same stupid thing as us, we passed them and went our merry way into a part of the river that was more rock than river. Unable to merely wade by, we had to stand up and walk on slippery rocks, carrying our tubes(and me with my cooler-noose) while a small amount of rushing water tried to trip us up. This was one of the few times I was happy to have a rather excessive posterior as it cushioned the numerous falls I had during my first and last portage.
Back into water that was several feet deep I could finally relax and enjoy the scenery. The water, trees and hills were rather pleasant and help dull the absolute dumbassery that followed.
With the currents everyone changed positions from front to back every now and then. Sometimes one person would be a little behind and everyone would dig their feet down or hold onto something to wait for that person to catch up.
On one such occasion I was the one in the rear and I saw everyone huddled together. Not wanting to lag behind anymore I figured I'd just happily rush past them so that I'd be in the lead. I realized far too late that they were not huddled there just to wait for me, but because they didn't know how they were going to get down from the jagged rock filled slide of death that was in front of them. It wasn't much of a drop but rather an incline with white water and large rocks that would probably give you a concussion or worse if your head happened to hit them. The others tried to catch me but instead they ended up flipping me off my tube so that when I went down this natural slide the tube was over my head and providing no assistance what so ever.
Here is a crudely drawn diagram of the event in question.
I made it through the water slide of doom without so much as a scratch or gaping head wound. I even managed to hold onto the inner tube and my noose-cooler didn't strangle me. There was a small gravel/sand area after the slide and I fought against the current to walk over there and sat down. I shouted to the others that I was OK and waited for everyone else to climb down a rocky path to meet me.
I don't remember if it was from that incident or an earlier one but I ended up losing a contact lens from one of my eyes and thus spent the rest of the day partially blind and very weary of losing the other contact.
At this point we had probably been on the water for at least 4 hours. We had anticipated the trip being 2 hours based on the fact that we wanted to do the trip in two hours. Calculations are for pussies after all. I was a bit emotionally and physically tired and decided that if there was a place that I could get to that would be easy for the rest of them to find me when they drove back up, I would get out of the water and stay there.
It may have been another hour before such a place could be found. Most of the river where we were was surrounded by 20-40 foot high cliffs, but eventually we came to a foot path that was marked by a sign saying that it was a parking lot for a provincial park. So I got out there and headed up to the dirt lot. We had guessed that we were probably no more than an hour from the end car so I expected a long wait.
Since we had expected to have a short trip we didn't get in the water until about 2pm which meant that it was around 7pm when I went up to the parking lot. There was still a lot of light out and I just sat on the inner tube, ate and drank what was left of my provisions and thought deep thoughts about which girl on girl fantasy was the best.
Time passed and a park ranger came into the parking lot and saw me. He asked me what I was doing and I told him about our little adventure and I think he thought I was partially insane or a future Darwin award winner. Seeing a fat youth wearing only swim trunks was probably more than he could handle at the time anyways.
I was greeted by another set of people, the couple we had passed in the water. They were finished and asked me where my friends were and I told them my reasons. Then I got an interesting proposition. They were going to the back of their van to smoke a joint and offered me a chance to go and share in BC's finest crop.
I haven't done any drugs before, possible reasons include the whole say-no campaign, the fact that I've seen the effects of addiction on others and mainly because I never knew where the hell to find any(And I went to a University in the pot capital of the world). I had figured that this invite could either go the way of the penthouse forums or the way of a Stephen King Novel. There was also the fact that I didn't want to miss the car if it passed me by. So I chickenshiterly declined my one and only invite for drugs.
It had no been over an hour and there was still no sign of anyone coming up the road and the sun was starting to set. I began to deflate the tube and decided to walk down the road so that I would at least be making progress towards the car.
There I was, no shirt, no shoes, one contact lens, an empty cooler around my neck and an inner tube on my arm, walking down a rocky road. After maybe 20 minutes of walking and scraping my feet in near darkness the park ranger and his car reappeared. He had to go collect the money from some campers back passed where we started our trip and offered me a ride and told me that he would drive me down to my friends afterwards.
I was too tired to even care if he was a crazy mad man pretending to be a park ranger and said yes and climbed in. We passed the car that we had left at the top of the river so I at least knew that no one had abandoned me. After the ranger picked up the camper's money we headed back down and passed everyone else in the other car. Both cars stopped and I got out and into the other car. The adventure was over. We stopped at a pay phone at a gas station to call people and tell them we were OK, it was probably at least 9pm by then.
My brother-in-law and the others had gotten out of the river when it was really dark but before they reached the car. They had ended up getting a ride to the lower car by some guy in a truck. We drove home.
What was supposed to be a relaxing cruise down a gentle river ended feeling far more like the movie Deliverance(only with less sodomy and minimal murder).
When I got home I slept for hours upon hours and hoped I would never do something like that ever again. Since I survived and didn't actually get hurt I still rate the trip as a success.