If I was to describe my friend group to someone, I would say we’re the embodiment of ‘distance means so little when friendship means so much,’ sprinkled with a smattering of batshit crazy – but in the best imaginable way of course. Simply put, we’re always pushing boundaries, heading out on crazy adventures, and with every chapter we add to our story, the bond between us only grows deeper. Scattered from Ottawa, Ontario to Truckee, California, most of our gatherings happen in Southern Ontario but once a year, Ottawa, my hometown, becomes our playground. And let me tell you I feel the pressure. Having ten bold women gather together for three days requires meticulous planning. Thankfully, I’m up to the challenge and this year I knew that a white water rafting adventure with Wilderness Tours was perfect for us.
Having previously embarked on several adventures with Wilderness Tours, I’ve been lucky enough to experience the tranquil Raft N Rod, the heart-racing High Adventure Rafting, and the insanely fun Sport Rafting Trip, fondly dubbed the ‘Flip Trip’. With this knowledge, I was confident the High Adventure Rafting trip would be the ideal choice for my group. When I proposed the idea, reactions spanned from those thrilled to tick it off their bucket list to nervous jests about passing out from fear. However, one thing was clear: there wasn’t a single chicken among us. These courageous mothercluckers were all in. God I love these girls.
We were short one woman though to fill our raft of twelve so my boyfriend Phil became the sole male participant in our group. For some men, spending an entire day with this lively bunch might feel like being caught in a relentless migraine. But Phil, in his typical charming fashion, rolled with it. I will also admit that I was initially concerned that his presence might alter the “women-only” dynamic. But the revelation that he used to guide rafts and teach white water kayaking made him a popular addition and the most sought-after seat mate.
The day of our trip, the sun was shining brilliantly and our group was buzzing with excitement. We had just wrapped up our first annual Mrs. Roper party the night before, but the allure of the water was irresistible and to my surprise, everyone was raring to go at 9am, not a hangover or a waving white flag in sight. We were eager to embark on our Wilderness Tours white water rafting adventure, the only real question left was, is Wilderness Tours ready for us?
From prior experience, I knew that Wilderness Tours employed some seriously kick-ass women, so I specifically requested we have a woman as our guide. Michelle, who was the lead for all the rafts going out that day, was the guide on our boat, and she was as incredible as I’d hoped. Funny as hell, ridiculously fit, and loaded with experience she was the perfect person to lead us on one of our most epic escapades ever.
As with most things in life, the first time doing something is usually the most scary, so when we headed down McCoy’s Chute, I wasn’t scared since I’d done it before but I was nervous to see how the group as a whole would feel. Would someone be too frightened to continue? Would someone ask to leave and wait on shore? With names on rapids like “Bus Eater” and “Butcher Knife” setting the tone for the day, it’s not hard to see how anxiety might creep in! I worried needlessly as 12 smiling, laughing faces popped up out of the water hooting and hollering for more.
And more we got as we paddled down the Main Channel towards even bigger and better rapids. Whitewater rafting is like riding nature’s rollercoaster: exhilarating, sometimes scary, but incredibly safe and, above all, empowering. The journey also offers a deep connection with nature, from spotting giant eagle nests high in towering pines to admiring the stunning Canadian landscape and majesty of one of North America’s best white water rafting rivers. It also requires complete disconnection. Unless you’re willing to lose your phone at the bottom of the river, you have little choice but to leave it on shore. Don’t worry though, Wilderness Tours knows you need receipts to prove to people that you really did this, so they happily take pictures and video along the way.
It’s also worth noting that a day at Wilderness Tours comes with plenty of playful jibes and a sense of camaraderie with other rafters. The fun begins on the bus ride to the put-in spot with singing and joking around, and doesn’t let up when you enter the water where the splash wars begin. There’s a instant sense of community, and not to put too fine a point on that, isn’t that what we’re all looking for in 2023?
With every passing rapid I was filled with pride watching my friends crush stereotypes about aging, smash personal fears, and lock in core memories. I couldn’t help but smile watching my daughter and her three friends have the time of their life, and hopefully downloading a few pointers on aging disgracefully. And of course, my love for that token guy on the trip got a little deeper as I watched him back flip off the raft, and roll with the playful banter.
As our raft glided through the final channel towards camp, my one girlfriend and I found ourselves at the front, spontaneously belting out “Rapper’s Delight.” Not your typical rafting anthem for sure, but it perfectly encapsulated the quirky spirit of this group.
From the initial trepidation of some members to the exhilarating rush of conquering the rapids our Wilderness Tours white water rafting experience was more than just an adventure; it was a testament to the power of friendship, trust, and pushing boundaries. As we continue to nudge each other out of our comfort zones, we know that life is too short to be confined. Here’s to our next escapade, which may include another white water rafting adventure someday, and to always expanding our horizons!
Now, what do I do next year to top this?