Outdoor Rafting Therapy in Jordan Valley

By Pamela McCormick

A scenic drive to East Jordan, MI for an outdoor adventure became a much-needed escape from the world at this moment. A planned “Winter Rafting Tour” with Jordan Valley Outfitters was on the docket with friends. Four of us rafted in the same location about 15 years ago.

Our adventure began at the main building with paperwork to complete. We then boarded the bus taking us to the drop off spot on the Jordan River. With our yellow rafts in tow and a friendly welcome from the owner Melanie Bennett, her husband Dan, and Brian Kozminski (from True North Trout), one of the other guides, we were off… 

After a quick ride, we grabbed the lifejackets hooked to our seats, and watched as Brian set up the rafts. Dan gathered us to discuss the rules and other safety measures. There were seven people on board, including Dan, who transformed from instructor to guide. 

Photo by Jordan Valley Outfitters

The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare to let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.

— from ‘Illusions’ by Richard Bach
Photo by Jordan Valley Outfitters

A couple of photos, a push off from the side, and we were off, serenaded by the sounds of the Jordan River moving us along. We connected with each other in the outdoor setting, as we paddled and enjoyed the incredible views of nature at its finest. Although this was a “Winter Rafting Tour,” much of the area snow had melted. There were definitely signs of spring on the horizon. Dan would direct us to paddle forward, stop paddling, or when only one side was needed. (Note: Not everyone needed to paddle.) 

Missy, Our Songleader

The sound of the paddle gently encouraging the rippling water was a meditation moment as I took in the natural tones and slowly rotated my paddle forward. We maneuvered through trees, underneath branches, and around rocks, as our trusted guides led the way from the back. A small muskrat popped up ahead, almost as if it was expecting our arrival. The muskrat’s appearance had us thinking about the words to “Muskrat Love” by Captain and Tennille, a song from our childhood. We even started harmonizing with some old camp tunes about a “boy and girl in a canoe” led by our friend, who always remembered lyrics from camp tunes!

After a humorous rendition of Bill Murray in Caddyshack by our friend, Catrina, we stopped halfway. We enjoyed a hot cider/chocolate break and tasty snacks provided by Jordan Valley Outfitters. Before and after, of course, was time invested with our trusty hand sanitizer.   

The Original Rafting Crew- 15 years later

Back on the journey, Dan shared stories about the tunnel of trees in which we found ourselves and the enchanted tree tucked among it which was particularly fascinating. It was said to be intertwined with branches of time. It seemed to be reaching out a limb or two to the tree across the river, almost as if they were trying to hold ‘hands’ to lift each other up.

The Enchanted Tree – Jordan River
Our Guide, Dan, maneuvered us through the obstacles.

Silence. As a verb, it is an imperative, powerful word. Silence. As a noun, it was the most memorable highlight. We stopped paddling and talking for a bit to soak in the silence as we floated gently. Those were soul-filling moments. The silence was reinforced by the intermittent natural sounds of birds chirping, branches creaking, and water rippling.

Silence allowed us to enjoy the symphony of Mother Nature.

Winter rafting was outdoor therapy at its finest, and I’m thankful for every second. There was a connection of friendship, teamwork, stories, songs, and sounds of nature, along with our trusted guide from Jordan Valley Outfitters paddling along.

Catrina survived a terrible snowmobile accident one year ago. She endured surgeries, doctors, and rehabilitation to walk again.
Her smile says it all…

The first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are.

— Lynn Culbreath Noel

I highly recommend some outdoor time with Jordan Valley. They are open year-round with several outdoor activities. Check out:  http://jvoutfitters.com/ and book your next adventure. It will be worth your time. Mother Nature and your peace of mind will thank you for the outdoor therapy.

Photo By Jordan Valley Outfitters

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