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#5 Big Smiles, Little Swims, and HUGE water!

We set off after a delicious lunch under the falls to run rapids 2 - 22. It was insane. Honestly, words nor pictures can describe how HUGE the Zambezi was. After Rapid 1, came an easy wave train called Rapid 2. We were feeling confident, and then we hit Rapid 3. Dumptruck. I guess we were a bit over-confident. The Zambezi wanted to give us a warm reminder that she is in charge. Really, the only reason we all decided to swim was because we heard that the crocodiles like to hang out in between Rapid 3 and 4...

After our first inaugural swim, we ran clean lines for the rest of the trip. Okay..we did have a couple of swims here and there, but nothing major.  The second boat did not have the same fate as we did. Rapid 5 is the biggest rapid on the 1- 22 stretch. I have no idea how boats make it through. Water is literally everywhere. Diego, being the badass that he is, got us through rapid 5 with a great line. We turned around just in time to watch the second boat flip. There were two safety kayakers and a safety raft with us which allowed the clean up to be super fast and safe. *Random fact is that one of the safety kayakers and I graduated from college together - small world!* Another 4 rapids and one portage later, we came to rapid 10. Our boat had a clean line. Once again, we turned around and saw the black bottom of the second boat. Another flip! The Zambezi is already exciting, but to have the added adrenaline of watching your friends flip makes the Zambezi that much better. As we paddled through the Batoka gorge, the sun reflecting off of the canyon walls, I was on cloud 9. We come up on rapid 18, a big ole wave, and plundered right through it. Boat number 2 was not so lucky. The third flip of the day! This one had a bit more consequence because the oar snapped in half. Let me point out that Boat 2 had a stern mount, and we were on a paddle raft. The oars used for the stern mount were this thick, wooden oars. Not the fancy kind we see on the rivers here, but they look like they were literally chiseled out of a tree and then put on the boat. They were heavy as hell, but got the job done.

After an epic day one, we got to camp and set up shop. My dad and I decided to sleep outside because, well why not? I would not pass up an opportunity to sleep under the Zambian stars and tents are over rated anyways. Once we laid out our tarps, we went down to the river's edge with a Gin and Tonic in hand. As I soaked my feet in the warm Zambezi water, I realized how lucky I was. Not only because I was wading in the Zambezi, but because I had 4 more days of Zambezi loving ahead of me.

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