“I love the thrill of rafting. When I saw the Rhododendrons in todays pictured I was reminded of a pretty river in Wales.”
Incident at Pixie Falls
“Listen up, team! We have a small waterfall up ahead. Beyond that, we’ll drop into a smoother current and find a place to pull out for dinner.” Granger yelled over the roaring white water that churned beneath the yellow inflatable raft
“Heard, captain!” replied five of the six rafters.
“Bess, are you with us?” Granger tapped the girl on the shoulder. She was so lost in gazing at the banks whizzing by, she wasn’t even rowing with the others.
“Hey, Bess. Wake up!” said her friend Dave.
“Oops sorry! I was mesmerised by all the beautiful red bell-shaped flowers along the banks. It’s just so pretty over there.”
“No harm done. Those are rhododendrons. They’re rainforest shrubs. See how they choke out all the native plants here?” Granger explained with his deep green eyes focused on the river ahead. “Still they are lovely to look at during spring.”
“Thank you for telling me,” Beth smiled as she began paddling again
Granger gave her a wink then pulled on his paddle. “Here comes the rough and falls! Stay in sync everybody. Paddle as one. Keep to the centre of the river.”
The raft dropped into a depression, then lunged into a crest. Its female passengers squealed in delight. Everybody paddled hard and fought to stay aboard.
“This is amazing!” yelled Dave.
“And terrifying!” Bess replied red in the face from the cold water.
“Paddles aft! Rocks ahead!” Granger ordered.
The team dug in, turning the raft away into the flow. Battered by the white water, it careened around the glistening teeth like rocks.
Bess felt her paddle strike the obstacle. It threatened to tear from her hands but she hung on gamely.
The raft gained speed and bucked like a donkey as the river put it through a rapid spin cycle.
“Wooo! It’s not so Baaa—” Dave spluttered to silence having been hit clean in the face by a wall of water.
Everyone burst out laughing as they clung to the rocking and rolling vessel.
“Don’t drink up the river, old boy. There will be a long hike from here!” Remarked Ian; another of the team.
His partner Lisa opened her mouth to speak but was drowned out.
“Get centred! Paddle hard and prepared to drop into the falls!” Granger yelled. His strong voice was hoarse from issuing his commands.
“Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!” Chorused the team, digging hard into the water. Forcing the raft to comply with them over the water.
Then there was no water, just froth and vapour as the river drops beneath the raft.
The air was filled with screams of fear and excitement. The air boomed with the roaring water.
“Hold on tight!” yelled Granger.
The raft splashed down with a mighty slap. It seemed to burrow into the water, only to rebound back into the light.
“We made it!” yelled Lisa now dripping wet.
“Not quite. Everyone, hard alee!” Granger demanded. Flexing his strong arms he yelled for the team to haul the raft ashore.
It was then Bess realised, “Dave!”
“We’ll find him, Bess.” Granger had the team beach the raft on a sandbank a hundred yards from the waterfall. “Everyone, stop down and begin dinner.”
“Nothing doing, we’ll walk downstream and check for Dave there,” Ian said without a second thought.
“Thank you. Bess, with me.” Granger unzipped his buoyancy aid and strode through the rhododendrons back towards the waterfall.
“Should we call for rescue?” Bess asked with a fearful look at the churning water.
“We will, but we’ll have a scrat around first.” Granger indicated the rock wall. “Let’s climb up and take a look.”
Bess watched the weather-worn team leader dig his hands and feet into the crevices and climb the ten feet with ease. Taking a deep breath, she followed suit and use the same holds, he did.
“You climb well,” Granger applauded with a smile as the two scoured the river atop the waterfall.
“Thank you,” Bess blushed. “Look!” Running down to the riverbank, she pulled a broken paddle from between the rocks.
“Good spot. I bet that’s how Dave was thrown from the boat.” Granger scratched his stubbly chin with a graveness weighting his brows. “Let’s go back down. If these rocks threw him, he went over the falls.”
“I was thinking the same thing.” Bess wiped her eyes and lowered her head as they trooped back. She had a horrible feeling her best friend was dead.
Regaining the sandbank, they returned to the raft. The others hadn’t returned yet so there was nothing to do but wait.
Granger took out his radio, “Requesting, search and rescue. One man lost at the Pixie Falls.” Hearing only static he repeated his message then listened.
“Message received, rescue team en route!” came a reply moments later.
“Roger that!” Granger walked toward the woods. “I’ll get firewood. Back shortly.”
Bess nodded and dropped into a sitting position, hugging her knees. David had brought her on this trip because she begged him to. Now it seemed she’d gotten him killed.
Time lost all meaning as she waited in silence.
“Err, Bess — Look!” Granger yelled having reappeared with a bundle of branches over a shoulder.
Bess flinched and looked. The rest of the team had returned with Ian and Lisa leading the way. Just beyond them was Dave.
He looked like he’d lost the war but was smiling. More than that his arms were filled with the great red bells of the rhododendron flowers.
“Dave! Oh, Dave, you’re alive!” Bess squealed as she bounded to her feet and ran to him.
“I’m okay. I have a few bruises, but I’m fine.” He told her.
Bess threw her arms around him. “You scared me so much!”
“I’m sorry. Look.” Dave handed her the flowers. “You said these are beautiful right?”
“Good, they must have been nurtured in your image. Because you’re beautiful too.”
“What?” Bess gaped as she smelled the flowers.
“I’m saying, that nearly drowning reminded me of why I agreed to come with you. I didn’t do that because we’re friends. I did that because I love spending time with you.” Dave leaned in and kissed her.
Bess kissed back, “I love spending time with you too.”
“Jolly good!” Granger said. “I’ve called off the rescue. Let’s have a dinner party to celebrate!”
“Here, here!” yelled everyone.
Bess sat beside Dave and placed her head against his chest.
Granger beamed at them. Rafting always brought people closer together. That was why he loved the extreme sport so much.
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!