Streams

January 07, 2012 01:28:36 AM
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Derek

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We entered the board room Monday morning; to find S.O.S spelled out in rocks next to a deflated raft on the conference table. Our colleagues filled the room with lafter as we sat in the vacant seats, relieved to be alive.  The AP and Alska magazine spread the news, with the headline "Alaska - This Aint No Disney Land". After being stranded on an Alaskan river bank for five days, we were airlifted by helocpter to a lodge where we drank rum until we were stoned. It took some time to absorbe the reality of what we had just endured, over what seemed like eternity. We really  were lucky to be alive after losing our vessel  in the boiling rapids that August day. We were lucky we didn't crack our heads open on the boulder that twisted our raft and engulfed it in the fridged water. We were prepared for an easy float down a gentle river, but not for class three rapids and the freezing cold of the glaciated water flowing from Mount McKinley. Our fears were unique to every waking moment; hypothermia, dehydration,  bears, food, rescue, warmth .  Each morning when we woke, the massive tracks surrounded our shelter, and showed sign that we were in a place, where we did not belong. The defining sound of the water gave the bears the freedom to move about without our knowledge. We couldn't see them, we couldn't hear them, but they were there. We felt that it was just a matter of time before they overtook our makeshift camp. We would never be rescued, we knew that we could not be seen above the fog that filled the tree line. We were at the mouth of a massive canyon and the bear trails would be the only way out. We were in an enemy encampment, surrounded by fear. Now I truely understand  how my father must have felt fighting a  war in the jungles of Vietnam. Every waking moment, knowing they are there, seeing all the signs of them, but hearing nothing but the sound of war.

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