Monday, August 27, 2012


So a few months ago we went down to Shikoku (one of the four main islands of Japan) and enjoyed a full day of white water rafting with the HappyRaft group. The trip was organized through the Outdoor Recreation office on base. We had a fantastic time and after spending the day with them I added "rappel down a waterfall" to my Bucket List. When the option to go with Outdoor Rec came up, we jumped at it. The bus was only taking fifteen people so we signed up the first day and have been looking forward to it (albeit a little apprehensively) ever since. Finally the day has come!

After a very scary bus ride up the mountain
Now I'm not afraid of heights. I'm afraid of getting hurt... and I'm not too keen on not being able to control my speed. If I want to stop, I want to stop, no matter where I am. When I was younger and went climbing I could never grasp the concept of sitting back in the harness and being lowered. Even now I have to talk myself off a rock. So rappelling down waterfalls and sliding down natural chutes sounded like the perfect way to face my fear.

Heading down the trail
The bus ride down there is over four hours so we spent the morning watching movies, reading, or dozing. Once we got to the Happy Raft headquarters we changed clothes and enjoyed their amazing lunch again. (Homemade bagels, orange cream cheese spread, fresh veggies - yum!)

At the first falls
We were given wetsuits, a secondary outer wetsuit, and helmet. Add in a harness and we were sweating in the humid August heat! We crammed our group into a small van and took a very scary ride up the mountain on a precariously perched road. At one point we had to make a u-turn to continue up the mountain. Our driver backed the van up and I thought our back wheels were going to come off the mountain. It was scary - and we hadn't even started playing in the water.

The first event on our canyoning tour was a natural chute. The water was racing across and we were going to be along for the ride. Elbows in, check. Legs straight, check. Goofy (and slightly scared) smile, check!

Three seconds till take off... drop off?

At the bottom the water churns so violently that we had to have a guide pull us out. Once we were all at the bottom we played in the churning. It was easy to swim under the waterfall, but coming back out was almost impossible!

Doesn't look so big from the bottom!
Next we jumped into a small blue hole and swam back into a cave. Inside the cave was an awesome petrified rock.

Next we climbed through the cave to our next adventure.

Next we had another natural chute with a twist at the bottom.

After the chute it was a short hike, stumble, slide, and crawl to the next event. A zip line across the creek bed!

At the bottom we crawled behind a waterfall and crammed into a cave. Then the grand finale was rappelling down a 40ft waterfall.

Our friend Kelly

Final group shot!
We survived! No broken bones or sprained wrists. Just a good time with good friends! It was the perfect way to spend our one year anniversary in Japan. That's right - officially one year in Japan. And this was an excellent way to spend it!


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