Travel Gone Wrong in a River

Updated: Mar 10

I'd always assumed the Grand Canyon was always perpetually warm. It isn't. It can get pretty chilly at night, especially if you happen to be in a tent with a wholly inadequate sleeping bag. Needless to say, I was glad to set up camp the following day in much warmer conditions at a lower altitude. So warm in fact, a swim in the Colorado River seemed like a great idea to cool off.

Now, I'm not a great swimmer, never have been, so if I'd have taken a moment to think things through I might have settled for a quick paddle instead, but no, I'd decided to swim out to the small island in the middle of the river.

Initially, it was a piece of cake as I paddled my way through the calm waters sheltered by the small bay beside the campsite however, things changed upon hitting the river for real, the current was quite strong and I soon realised I wasn't making any progress. At this point, I remembered I was a terrible swimmer and sensibly decided to turn back - only to find I was unable to swim that way either, I was trapped by the current.

It was around about then that panic set in. My body seemed to drain of energy and my arms felt like dead weights. I was struggling to stay afloat and swallowed a few mouthfuls of delicious river water. I looked in vain for someone who might be able to help but there was nobody, I'd been carried a little downstream from camp. It was then I had a mental image of my hometown newspaper reporting my untimely demise and decided that wasn't an option; out of nowhere my brain realised I had to stop fighting the current and go with it. As I bobbed downstream I managed to edge my way across to the bank until I could grab a tree root which, unfortunately, pulled straight out of the earth and floated along limply beside me. Thankfully, after a few expletives and some few meters later, I had better luck and managed to haul myself out of the water where I sat for some time, quite badly shaken by the experience, before trudging back to camp in search of illusive sympathy.

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