No matter how new you are to something, you always adapt to it quicker than you think. On this trip you wear long underwear to bed because you’re dirty as hell and your legs will stick together otherwise. You keep lotion in your pocket because the combination of the cold water and the air dries your hands out to the point where they can crack and bleed. You sleep with a 1 gallon size bag of extra batteries for the cameras in your sleeping bag to keep them from losing power in the cold temperatures of the night. New calluses form on your hands from the hard work and you learn that doing the dishes in the morning is nice because the hot water thaws your frozen fingers.
Adaptation can work the other way to though. It’s pretty much stock standard that when you put someone in a new vehicle that they will slowly get more and more brave until they take it too far. The first time I rode a snowmobile I was blown away by how dangerous they were. All gas and no real brakes, perfect recipe for disaster. I went from “Hey, what’s the rush everyone?” to “You think I can get the whole thing off the ground.” Next thing you know you’re rag dolling across a snow field, looking around to see where your boots went, and being very ready to chill the hell out and know your limits. Well, same for the raft of course.
The first real rapid we went down we couldn’t have been more geared out. Dry suit, gloves, helmet. I think I would have had on elbow pads if they were in the boat, but that didn’t last long. Don’t tell anyone, but we just didn’t see the point in wearing a life jacket in small rapids after a while. And that’s what most rapids were. They are just a series of waves that are no threat to capsizing your boat. You may get wet, be really uncomfortable, but there was no threat to your safety. So why not start going down some rapids tied together? Why not misread the map, take your dry suit off, have a beer, and go down a much larger rapid than you’d thought? Hey, if John Wesley Powell can do it with one arm in the 1860’s, I’m pretty sure I can do it will a cold Bud to take the edge off.
I can already feel you shaking your head like Lee Travino in Happy Gilmore, don’t judge:
One of the most important ways you adapt after a day on the river is by learning to set up a fire ASAP and laying out your wet clothes. Because without fire, there’s no way those things are getting dry.