Last year during a rain event the Vermillion River came up to huge levels. As usual when a whitewater river floods during the summer the locals still see it as their friendly fun swimming spot. Totally oblivious of the danger of swift water. I was in a position to rescue a girl who was talked into swimming down through Donut Hole by her boyfriend when she did NOT KNOW HOW TO SWIM!! Here is the link to my blogpost from that day. Hero? No. As a whitewater paddler we all pull people out of the rivers on a regular basis...it's what we do. And what others enjoy doing for us at times.
The girl I could tell had very low self esteem. Though she was very pretty she was carrying a few extra pounds. Not much but her self image was reflected in her choice of boyfriend. He was a garden variety sociopath. As I was struggling to ferry her on the back of my boat across the current I could see he had no care or concern for his girlfriend and I had to yell at him several times to come and help grab her. He never did...waiting until I had her safely on the mid river sand bar before coming over. Then after expressing my thoughts about him taking a girl who couldn't swim down rapids he took her over on the sand bar and convinced her to come and tell me that she really did know how to swim...just so he wouldn't look so bad!! I was livid! I also ferried her the rest of the way to shore before I left. My impression of her was that she was a very sweet girl, very polite, just a girl who had a beautiful innocent glow about her. I worried about her with that boyfriend. He on the other hand sent me looks of hatred. I wanted to tell her that this boy was dangerous and she needed to get away from him asap but the young man stuck to her like glue. He knew what I had to say. She did thank me again in the parking lot while the look he gave me was very clearly one of "I'll get you for this". Ah well...I've seen worse looks. I did worry for my truck that he might damage it while I was on the river at some other time.
This last year I thought about her often. Wondering if she made it away from that thug safely. I had two regrets. Not being able to tell her to run as fast as she can away from him and I also wondered what her name was. I'm a mother so I worry.
Last week a few of the newer paddlers and I were having an amazing night on the Verm. Anna, 14 years old and a first year boater, stomped her first Vermillion River run at a good stout flow. Amy nailed her first combat roll! Josh had just bought his first boat and gave it the virgin run on the Verm and did awesome! Everyone else had a super fun time on the river and we had beer and root beer in the parking lot after. While laughing and enjoying the glow from the river a pickup truck pulled in and suddenly stopped next to us. A girl hung her head out the passenger side and asked if we were the ones that pulled her out of the river last summer! I was amazed! I said that was me and she just wanted to thank me again! See, I said she was very polite. The next words out of my mouth were "Did you dump that boyfriend of yours?" She laughed and said "Oh yeah!!" They parked and she hopped out...wow! She lost the few extra pounds that she had and was a knock out! Still oblivious to how gorgeous inside and out she really is. Laughing and having a great time she went off with the guys she was with to see the level of the river from the bridge.
Personally I couldn't be happier to see her again! Alive and healthy, without the thug. When they came back from the river I asked her her name. Brittany. I can stop worrying now.