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Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Day I Fell in the New River

Seems like yesterday when I fell into the rapids of the New River. I was sixteen and remember every single detail of that horrible day. The guy I was dating [and later married] had a father and an uncle who loved to fish.
And his mother and aunt accompained us on this ill-fated trip. When we got to the New River, it was a gorgeous day: The autumn leaves were ablaze with colors and the azure sky was as perfect as it could be.

Lunch was prepared by my boyfriend's
mother and aunt and they had retreated to a place underneath a grove of trees to eat their lunch as did I. All three males were fishing and after I ate my sandwich, I, the forever explorer, went rummaging around the huge rocks to see what I could find. Of the rocks by the New River, they were not only huge but downright slippery. If you were to know me, you'd know that sitting still is not one of my attributes: Never was and still isn't!
I found small rocks to collect and other treasures of nature and se them aside for later collecting.

The noise made by the New River's rapids was thunderous. No one could hear anything else around unless you would scream at the top of your lungs. And sometimes that didn't work either.
My boyfriend was fishing near his father and motioned for me to come to the gigantic rock on which he was standing: That rock had a flat top. By his gestures, I could tell he wanted me to jump from a rock that he pointed out to me to the one of which he was standing. I looked at the distance between the two huge rocks with the river between them and thought, "I can make that jump!" After all I could swim and reasoned that Icould take that leap and make it. One more look at the swirling frosty river and I made my decision.

The decision was between sitting with the women or being with my boyfriend.
I jumped! But I missed and slid into the river and found myself in a whirlpool of swirling water: It happened so fast and the water was so swift that I felt my body going down and I knew I was going to drown.

Thank heavens my boyfriend's uncle was closest to me: He came over and dragged me out by my arms and pulled me up to safety.
Scared,soaked to the gills and confused, I then saw everyone come rushing to me.
I should mention that the uncle was six foot seven and had really long arms; had he not been that tall or had such a reach, I wouldn't be writing this memory.

My boyfriend's mother and aunt took me to the grove of trees, dried me off and the aunt found an extra pair of her husband's pants for me to wear.
His mother had an extra jacket which was put on me. I remember looking down at myself and seeing those long pants wrapped around my neck; the jacket went around me twice. But I didn't mind one bit for at least I was dry. I sat with these two women for what seemed like an eternity. And then the fear of what had happened encompassed me like some huge blanket.

I could have drowned that day but fate was on my side. Thank heavens for such swift action on the uncle's part or I might never have been seen again.
The New River is gorgeous but it is also dangerous and wild.
I would always suggest to never ever jump from one rock to another for not only are the rocks slippery but the river has a mind of its own.
The above story happened long before "Whitewater Rafting" came in vogue on the New River. And no, I have never ever had a desire to be in a canoe with other rafters; in fact, when I am at the New River, I just look at it from a distance. It almost got me that day long ago and no way is it going to get a chance again to get me in its swirling frothy come-hither disguise.

Sherry Hill
Photo from wildwaterwv.wordpress.com

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