Last weekend I went river tracing in Yilan with my buddies. So. Much. Fun!!
It was my friend Hank’s birthday on Thursday, so my good friend (who happens to be Hank’s GF…i.e. best girlfriend EVER!!), Graci, organized an adventure outing. Hank (along with a surprisingly large number of my buddies here) is an avid rock climber, so river tracing was the perfect opportunity for us all to escape the city for a day + for Hank to run wild on his bday weekend!
Let me just put it out there that I do not do well with quote-unquote-dangerous-activities. I am the one on the roller coaster convinced that it will be my car that stalls at the top while I’m upside down + my harness will come undone +, well…you can just imagine. But couple that fear with my irresistible urge to have the living crap scared out of me + my super competitive, athletic streak: 9 times out of 10 the quote-unquote-dangerous-activity wins.
We were guided on our journey by three lovely folks from Cloud9 Outdoor Adventure: a South African dude named Bp + a pair of Taiwanese sisters, Megan + Yi Ling, who were moooonsters on the trail!! All of the pics in this post are thanks to the sisters who were super on top of documenting every moment of the trip!
We were issued helmets, wet suits, shoes, life jackets + harnesses, + then we were off to the river.
Not having watched the demo video that Graci sent out (whoops), I imagined river tracing would be leisurely wading through something similar to the sleepy rivers of Pennsylvania that I grew up tubing down when I went to my aunts’ country house. Not so much.
Instead we climbed up a mountain river, i.e., up a mountain via a mountain river.
Up + over boulders, under + up waterfalls, stopping time to time to lounge in the beautifully cold pools of water we passed through, because let me tell you, Taiwan is HOT in the summer.
Sooo, I guess now it’s time to divulge another well kept secret: I totally forget to breathe when I am in the water. My body freaks out + tenses up so that I physically can’t breathe even though I totally could if I just did. + whenever I swim (which is not often) I just tread or backstroke the entire time because anything else is super anxiety inducing + I worry too much if I’m breathing “correctly” or what not.
So, once I was under the waterfall, getting ready to go up, that’s exactly what happened. The shock of the chilly waterfall over my body made my muscles tense + I decided that I wouldn’t be able to breathe so I didn’t + had a brief freak out, yelling over the roar of water around me to the guide, “BUT HOW DO I BREAAAAAATHE!?!?!?!” To which she replied, “JUST BREATHE.”
So I tried it.
Low + behold, it worked. A false start + a minor slip due to the slimy, wet rock face later, I made it up the waterfall in one piece! Definitely surprising myself + proving to myself, I can do this!
Just like I could jump off this boulder!
After lunch we hit a super hard to climb rock face that even the rock-climber boys had to make several attempts to get over. I tried + failed three times, but had time not been an issue, I would have kept at it until I got it!
The last stop was a beautiful waterfall that we just played under! I love waterfalls. The first one I experienced was in Mindo, Ecuador. I had never stood under one before then. I could not believe how cold the water + how great the pressure was. It literally takes your breath away. I love just standing + forcing myself to breathe until my breathing can be controlled. (Ugh, I’m a cheeseball.)
Arguably the most fun part of the day was the simplest: the guides had us make a human chain, floating in the water, + pulled us around under the waterfall. Then we formed a floating circle + were spun through.
It sounds super cheesy, but it made us all feel like we were little kids again! The sheer joy of being pummeled by waterfall water, weightless + letting go of all control of where you’ll go next made me laugh so hard that at one point I began to cry. But, like, actually cry. It sounds so cheesy, but I realized how lucky I was to have any part of that moment.
Floating, under a waterfall after a wacky, ass-whipping adventure, cracking up with an incredible group of friends who have truly made Taiwan home for me for the last 8 months?
It doesn’t get much better than that.