Meeting up in Flag with some of my river crew, first of all, I despair of coming home with a normal Western accent. Several of them are from the South, or at least from places where they talk funny. Oklahoma, North Carolina and Tennessee. I told them "just don't call me "ma'am" and we'll get along fine." At which one of them shot back, "So, it will be okay with you if we just say "Hey, B**ch!" I said, "Sure that would be fine. Certainly preferable to being called "ma'am."
Also, although we had tried to keep a good gender balance in the group, we ended up with only 3 women and 9 guys starting out. Three people are hiking out at Phantom or Monument/Granite, and one of them is a gal, leaving us with 2 women and 7 guys. Our flotilla consists of five rafts, three kayaks and one gizmo (a tiny cataraft). We had some cancellations early on, and we made a decision to keep the group smaller than what is allowed, which is 16. We decided we'd have a better group if we kept it smaller, and we'd get to know each other better.
Seriously, I have something to lose sleep over. I'm the least experienced boater in the group, although I'm the permit holder. I've been worrying about the fact that the river is low and there have been many flips reported at Hance, Horn Creek and other rapids, And about the fact that an acquaintance is currently in the hospital here in Flag after being airlifted out with many broken bones (femur, hip, ribs, and 3 vertebrae) from a flip against the wall at Horn Creek. And also about this news: A crew member is leaving the trip at Diamond Creek. At that point we will be down to one boat per person. Guess who has to (gets to??) row the last 65 miles by herself! I will either row an 18-footer belonging to the outfitter, or my friend's 16-footer, or we'll take turns with them. Hope those big long heavy oars on that 18-footer are counterbalanced. If they're not, I'll steal some beer from someone and duct tape a few cans close to the handles, to counterbalance them.
Previously, I have always had someone in the raft with me, teaching me to row the boat. I have so far been able to row up to what might be considered Class III on a normal river (GC is classified differently). Anyway, there are not many more real rapids between Diamond Creek and Pearce Ferry, but there are at least 4 of them. By then, they tell me, I am going to be "all trained up." Okay, I think I'm ready... I am also going to be on cook crew with our one crew member who is an actual GC river guide. I plan on LEARNING as much as possible. So, my mental state has been switching between