Authors try to remember everything about a trip they have taken. Later on they use the adventure as part of their story. Once I went on a rafting trip on the Snake River near Yellowstone Park.

Our raft

Our guide for the trip.

Author on a float trip. Grand Teton Mountains in the background.

Later, I had my characters take that same trip in my novel, Mountain Rules. Here’s a piece of that story. See if you can write an adventure for a character based on a trip you have taken.

Twenty minutes later, the van made a sharp turn down a rutted road to the landing next to the Snake River. While the boys adjusted their life jackets, the guide talked about safety on the river. “There’s a seven-mile an hour current running out there in about three to four feet of water. If by some chance you happen to fall in, you’ll be tempted to stand up and fight the current. Don’t. If you try to walk, you could catch your feet between some rocks or snag on a branch. Then you’d be in trouble. So, if you go in, curl your legs up and float with the current. We’ll catch you. Got it?”

Worried nods all around.

The Middle Mountain campers carefully climbed over the bulging sides of the inflatable raft and plopped down, facing each other, seven on a side, along the inside edge. The guide, standing in the middle, holding long wooden oars, nodded to a helper who released the tie-rope and soon had them drifting with the current down the center of the river.

At first the ride was very pleasant. But because the raft was made of rubber, it surged and wobbled with every wave and shift in the current. And soon, Lazelle, who could feel the rippling water through the rubber floor, became slightly nauseous.

To take his mind off the motion sickness, Lazelle studied the Teton Mountain Range—snow on top like whipped cream on a giant sundae. He flashed to that game his brother sometimes played when he pulled up to a light and some pretty girl was in the next lane. Jarron would slip the car into reverse and roll backwards till the girl thought she was going forward and you could tell she was slamming on her brakes. They would all point at her and laugh. If she was cool, she would laugh too. Same thing here. Sometimes it seemed as though he were standing still and the mountains were sliding by. Then he would remind himself that it was the raft that was slipping and skimming along to the gurgling current. And then he was sick.

Lazelle made a quick lunge halfway over the side of the raft just as someone up front yelled, “Look, a deer! Over there!”

The guide made a quick cut so others could glimpse the wild animal. The combination of the raft turning and people shifting, sent Lazelle over the side. Tico was the only one to notice. Don’t stand, just float, he thought, hoping Lazelle remembered.

Scooting to the side of the raft he saw Lazelle quickly pop to the surface, struggle to his feet, and stumble along as the current shoved him from behind.

“Hey!” Tico shouted, “man’s in the water!”

Lazelle took three more steps before, as though someone had tripped him, he fell face forward, arms flailing, trying to keep his head above water. The guide started to turn the raft around, to head back upstream. Tico, realizing Lazelle needed help—now—rolled over the side. Standing up, he faced the current which surged against and around his gut and began a slow twenty-foot trudge toward Lazelle.

The rocks under his gym shoes felt jagged and slippery. His ankles slid and wobbled. The water wasn’t as cold as Torre Creek but it was much stronger as it leaned against his legs and hips. It felt like a bad dream where you try to run but something is pulling you back. “Almost there. Hang on, man!” Tico called as he got close to Lazelle who slapped and pushed with his powerful upper body, almost swimming, so his head could clear water long enough for quick ragged gasps of air.

Tico knew better than to grab Lazelle’s arms—he would just drag both of them down in his panic. Instead, he circled behind figuring that he would need to pull backward to free Lazelle from whatever was binding his feet.

As soon as he was in position, Tico braced himself, grabbed the life jacket at the arm holes and heaved till Lazelle’s face was out of the water. While he coughed and gagged, Tico leaned with all his might against the current and dragged backwards. Something under the water released its hold and Tico sprawled on his back. Lazelle floated free, right into the returning raft. Tico tucked up his knees and easily floated to the raft as well.

“Grab Lazelle,” Reese yelled.

“I got him,” Clayton answered. “Someone grab Tico,”

“Gimme your hand, man,” Mimo said

The boys dragged their friends onboard then scooched back to their places to survey their buddies. No bleeding. No broken arms. As soon as it was clear that they were just breathing hard and dripping half the river into their raft, the chirping started.

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