The story I want to tell today is one that has been told throughout my circle of friends dozens of times. And each time the story gets told, it still is able to retain the same suspense and fear that it did the last time it was told.
This is the story of the time we all almost drowned in the river.
A group of friends and I had rented a cabin near Shenandoah National Park in Virginia for a few days during our winter break. It had been a long semester and I needed something to take it out of my mind and help me to move on.
First, I think it would be a good idea to introduce everyone that went on the trip. First there was me obviously. Next came Heiwad and Mustafa, who are childhood friends of mine. Next, there was Saeed, who was a cousin of Heiwad from California. Then there were Nabil and Kaveh, cousins of Heiwad that live close to Heiwad and I. And lastly, there was Mujjy, who is the younger brother of Mustafa. I hope you were able to get these names down, it might be a little confusing due to the number of different names in this story.
So we had the cabin for three nights. The first night was pretty uneventful. By the time we reached the cabin. it was dark outside. So we just stayed in, made some tea and then rested.
The next day, we decided that we would try to pack it in with activities. The first thing we started with was canoeing. The cabin was rested on the bank of a tributary of the Shenandoah River, and right in front of us were some rapids. So, with none of having any experience with either canoeing or kayaking, we decided to get in the water.
This day went pretty smoothly on the water. No one capsized and we had made it back relatively unscathed. The only thing that sucked about that day was having to go back upstream in the kayak. And since we had to go upstream, it ended up taking the entire day. So much for packing the day full of activities.
The next day was when everything went wrong. We figured since yesterday went so well on the water we would give it another try. The weather was bleak, cloudy, and cold. In fact, it snowed a little in the morning which I felt like should have been a sign of some sort.
Anyways, we brought out the equipment. We had two canoes and two kayaks. We put a canoe on the water, a little further upstream than the rapids, with Nabil and Kaveh on it, and began to push them onto the water. They turned right as to continue upstream, however almost immediately the current swept them up and took them towards the rapids.
Soon, they got swept up into the rapids. Then the worst thing that could happen happened. Their canoe capsized. We all watched in horror as the boat flipped over with them underneath. Seconds became hours as we waited for them to resurface. Then, after ten seconds of agony, they finally came up and out of the water. There was an island in the middle of the river right near where they were, and Nabil was able to grab onto a tree branch from it and keep them from floating away. However, his strength had left him and he was unable to pull them onto the shore.
There was no time to really assess the situation. The water was below freezing, and we knew that they couldn’t stay in there for much longer. I grabbed a kayak and got into the water, determined to get through the rapids and get them to safety.
Once I got in the water, I was immediately swept up into the rapids. I tried as hard as I could to get to them, but the current was too strong. My kayak was faced towards them, however I was being moved away from them. As I was leaving them, Heiwad yelled for me to go after their canoe that had been drifting away down the river. And so I did that, leaving them behind. I prayed that we would all get out of this alive and well.
In this story we’ve sort of hit a fork in the road. The story split up into me going after the canoe, and the rest of them trying to save Nabil and Kaveh from dying. Because they are two very different stories, I am going to have to use the next two blog posts to tell them. So stay tuned for the next part to this story!