Rafting down a river, as sumptuous as it is, involves an immense amount of work. Just getting ready is a feat of epic proportions.
(Which is why it's a great idea to do a guided trip.)
You have to pull your boat out of storage, blow it up by hand, rig it, load it on the trailer, rig that, then drive to the put-in, de-rig the trailer, de-rig the pick-up onto the ramp, load all of that onto the boat, strap it all down, clean up the trash, run a shuttle to the take-out, and fill water bottles before you can even launch.
But BEFORE that, you've had to plan food for however many days and however many people will comprise your adventure. Then you have to coordinate food and gear and vehicles with everyone else. But that's a challenge because you (and they) are also busy getting all of your ducks in a row so that you can leave town without your life imploding while you are gone.
Like herding cats, really.
You pull your river clothes out of your drybag and remember that you forgot to wash it all after your last trip.
You're making lists while attending zoom meetings, and driving to the City Market at midnight to buy pop tarts, which are traditional river food.
Because you had to work all day, drop your dog off at your friend's, and get your new car tags before you could leave town, you have to drive through the night in order to arrive in time to launch.
But here's the thing...
As hectic as it is, no one really minds because it all leads to The One Perfect Moment.
The moment comes when it all gets left behind. It is the proverbial carrot that motivates even the laziest of river folk.
An exact split-second of time so magnificent that you feel it in your bones and your soul.
That moment comes when the boat ramp is clear of flip flops and cam straps and unwanted layers of clothing.
You, the captain of your own private, 16-foot, rubber domain, settle into your captain's seat. You give everything within reach a tug, mentally questioning whether it will hold if the boat is upside down.
You secure your Koozie into your cup holder, tuck the map under a strap on your deck, and cinch up your PFD straps.
All launching rituals have been attended to.
You are ready for this. It took so much to get here and now it's time to reap the rewards.
No lights. No noise. Immersed in beauty beyond compare.
Your hands grasp the oars and gently place the blades in the water. You can feel the first inklings of current tugging at the boat. Your heart pumps a little bit harder. Your muscles remember how to do this without thought. You look at each other in anticipation. And then...
You pull on the oars and glide away from the shore and into the current.
Pure. Unadulterated. Joy.