I had never heard of it before, but in late June a group of food-lovers got together to eat a delicious meal of ribs, mashed potatoes and coleslaw. We ate, drank and merrily conversed about all sorts of things. Eventually one person brought up that we should plan some day trips out of the city, and we quickly compared calendars and penciled in a bunch of dates.
And so in early July, I met up with four lads to go tubing at the Elora Gorge Conservation Area. I had no idea what to expect, but it involved water, sunshine and nature. How could it be anything but good? I didn’t bring a GoPro, nor did I bring the waterproof case for my phone so I wasn’t able to take pictures and even better? It was like going camping all over again: being disconnected. I was grateful for the opportunity to be offline for the day.
We got there just in time too; just before noon. The line-up was enormous. By the time we were renting our gear, they had to put a call out that there were only 20 tubes left1. We took the big yellow school bus shuttle bus up to the top of the hill, and carried our tubes the rest of the way to the launch pad. The website had warned us not to wear flip-flops, and I didn’t want to wear shoes so I went barefoot – a decision I would not make again. Rocks are sharp, and they get really hot in the sun. The more you know.
I didn’t think about it until it was too late, but I could have strapped my flipflops onto the life vest I was required to wear. We walked along the gravel roads two more times after the first time. Yes, the ride down the river is absolutely worth it.
The first time we went down, once we had gotten through the roughest water, we formed a 9-person-circle; a community whereby we kept each other safe, from bum surprises or drifting into the side and getting stuck. We speculated as to who we would sacrifice should we encounter more rough water. We managed to stay together for quite some time. The second and third times down, there were only five of us and we tried to recreate the community but it just wasn’t the same. So we would alternate between trios. I was also part of a trio… or a couple. I guess I didn’t like going down the river alone2.
We eventually got hungry, so we dried ourselves, changed and drove into town for some pizza and ice cream. The pizza was planned, the ice cream was purely my bad3 influence. After that, we drove over to the Quarry to go swimming and jump off cliffs. I had never jump off cliffs when I was a kid. They didn’t have such things in Dubai. If they did, I didn’t know about it and so I never got to go.
It was exhilarating. I’m not even a strong swimmer, but I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying the adrenaline rush and the satisfaction of knowing you said fuck you to your fears. I actually surprised myself; not only did I manage to jump 3 or 4 times but I swam every single time and only started to feel like I was too tired to swim on the 4th go around4.
As the sun continued to descend, it only began to get colder and colder… and soon there were only two of us playing in the water so we called it. The drive home was a little more mellow than the drive out, but the silences were satisfying.
I am so grateful I got to experience another mini-get-away in nature so soon after coming back from my 5 day camping adventure or I might have gone into withdrawals. There’s talk of doing another day trip with the same group in August and I honestly can’t wait to see what kind of trouble we get ourselves into next.
If you’ve never been to Elora Gorge, you really should consider taking a trip out. Remember though, go with no expectations and you’re guaranteed to have a great time.