OPINION: Knowing when to turn back in Squamish

It wasn’t so bad on the walk to the beach where we would put in inflatable boats to raft down a river on our way to a hike. But as soon as I sat down in the inflatable — just big enough for two people and our packs — I couldn’t shake a sinking feeling in my gut.

I hadn’t been on this particular river before, and neither had any of the people in our party. All I knew was I had seen rafting companies taking tours down, and right now the river seemed to be high and fast to my inexperienced eye. We also didn’t have lifejackets. While I’m a strong swimmer (I used to compete and my first job was as a swimming instructor), I know that I’m no match for a river’s speed, water temperature and any obstacles like rocks or downed trees. At least, I wasn’t feeling up to seeing how I would fare if we capsized.

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Normally, I’m not one to turn down an adventure. But in this case, there were too many questions I didn’t have answers to. If something were to happen, I already knew I would be kicking myself for not being more prepared. As someone who reports (all too often) on incidents in our beautiful backyard, I know it’s often the people who didn’t think it would happen to them that it happens to. Accidents happen to even the most experienced among us.

Calling Squamish Search and Rescue because I was in trouble instead of for an interview isn’t something I want to have to do.

So I swallowed my pride and told my boat buddy that I wanted to turn back. Once we got back to my car, I dropped him off down river so he could catch up with the rest of our group. They continued on and had a great, incident-free trip.

It wasn’t easy making the choice to turn back and turn down what could be a memorable time — I just want to make sure my adventures are memorable for the right reasons. As hard as it was to wave the white flag, I knew I wasn’t going to have fun pushing my risk tolerance that far. Maybe saying no will mean that I’m not invited out next time. Maybe commenters will troll me for being a chicken, but at least I’m a safe chicken.

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