Field trips

I’ve seen a lot of the Trinity River in the past week. Last Saturday I took a whitewater rafting trip with my Watershed Management class. I had considered not going because 1) it would cost 30 bucks, nearly wiping out the bonus I just got at work; 2) I worried that it would be dangerous; 3) I hate having my days off eaten up by school functions; 4) I thought I’d feel awkward spending the day hanging out with classmates I barely know; and 5) I had the very mundane concern about what I’d do with my glasses.

Here’s how each of the reasons got shot down.

1) Thirty bucks? No biggie. Everyone says that’s cheap for a rafting trip anyway. I’m still not in a great financial spot, but I have parents to help me.

2) I was paranoid. The river guides know what they’re doing. Flows weren’t super high, and of course everybody had a personal flotation device. (I call them life jackets, but apparently river guides call them PFDs.) Naturally I got a little nervous as we approach the Class II and III rapids, but I braced myself and didn’t come close to falling out. The only slightly unpleasant thing was getting splashed in the face so I couldn’t see anything for a moment, and I had to stop paddling briefly. But my point is that the rapids were totally exhilarating, not scary. There wasn’t even time to get scared, really, because I had to focus on paddling hard and bracing myself.

3) What else would I have done on a Saturday? The day started off cloudy and rainy, but a bit later, when it was warm and sunny, I couldn’t have been happier to be on the river. It was a lot better than the alternate assignment, which was to write a paper.

4) I’m not completely socially inept. I got to talking with my fellow van passengers on the ride over, and it was fun.

5) Before getting in the boat, I put my glasses in a hard case and put the case in a dry bag. If I’d worn them, they might have gotten knocked off by the spray. (At least, they would have gotten wet and prevented me from seeing at all.) So everything was blurry. It was kind of a bummer because I couldn’t fully enjoy the scenery or very well see the fish and birds that people pointed out. If I’d been wearing contacts, I’m guessing they would have been knocked around by the spray too. I guess I’ll never be a river guide unless I have laser eye surgery.

On Friday I returned from another Trinity trip, this one with my Natural Resources Agency Planning class. We visited Hoopa, Weaverville, a number of restoration sites along the river, Lewiston and Trinity Dams, and Hayfork. The main purpose was to look at how folks in Trinity County work across jurisdictional boundaries to manage the watershed and the forests. If I were to list all the people we talked to and what they told us, it would take me an hour to finish this post. And it’s sunny outside, so I don’t want to do that. I’ll just say that it was nice to get out of Arcata for a little bit and enjoy being in the mountains. It was also great to meet people who care so much about their home environment and are passionate about the work they do. I feel a little better now about being a planner, because I can use my training to do something really valuable and interesting someday.

I think I’ll need to spend some time on, or in, the river this summer.

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