Chasing Water, Chasing Dreams


United States
33° 56' 41.4384" N, 83° 25' 56.4168" W

The river disappears into a seeming nothingness.
The concussion of water slamming into rocks,
Echoing off canyon walls,
Deafens my senses.

30 year record snowfall.
Rivers swell and begin consuming the unsuspecting land.
One of the top ten big drops in the country,
Warm Springs rapid on the Yampa River.

Jittery with fear and anticipation.
Four helpless passengers and me, the guide.
At the mercy of these aquatic forces.

Tears on frigid cheeks,
"I don't want to flip!"
"Mary, neither do I."
Famous last words.

Pulling out of the eddy,
I enter the current too soon.
Get Right, Get Right!

We're swept into chaos.
Whimpers uttered from the bow.
Oars bending with the force of my pulls.

The water disappears down a 40 foot chute.
Ending in a toothy maw,
Hungry for boaters.

Lateral waves on river right are laughing at me.
Cackling, just out of reach.
Beckoning with curling fingers.

We're not going to make it.
When in doubt,
Straighten out.

"Get ready to........."
Bodies fly, I bail.
2000 lbs of boat crash down on my head.

A torrent of black fear pulls me deeper, deeper.
What do we always tell our customers?j
Think, think, think!

Ball up,
Reduce surface area,
Let your PFD do the work.

I shoot to the surface,
Straight into darkness.
I'm under my boat!

The river grasps my rag-doll body,
Pulling me down again.
One small gulp of air and I'm under.
Flailing, fighting, which way is up?

I ball up, nothing.
My mind is swimming,
Spots erupt before my eyes,
Lack of oxygen.

I'm drowning.

I kick and claw my way up, up, up.
Sunshine strikes my face.
I'm alive!

The photo was taken moments before I dropped into Warm Springs rapid on the Yampa River in Colorado and flipped my first boat on June 11th 2011. This was the highest peak flow recorded in over 30 years and it was also the rapids birthday. If you would like to see an epic video of my flip go to and search "Warm Springs Wreck

Guide that inspired this poem: 


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