She’s been down the river at least 20 times before, but 90 year old grandmother Hazel Amos thought it was time to ride the rapids of the Thompson River again.
Escorted by 17 members of her family, she emerged from her car after the three hour ride from Surrey and said, “Well, at least now the dangerous part of the trip is over.”
After a 15 minute bus ride from the Kumsheen Resort to the put-in on the Thompson, 16 kilometres upstream, everyone arrived at Nicomen, the departure point for the half-day “Devil’s Gorge Run”.
It was 40°C, and rain gear wasn’t required. Everyone donned lifejackets, which the raft guides then checked to ensure a snug fit, before listening to a detailed safety talk given by the Trip Leader.
“Listening to these young guides is usually the scariest part of the trip for me,” quipped Hazel.
After the safety briefing, the three motorized rafts headed downriver and were immediately into The Frog, the first of eighteen rapids from Nicomen to Lytton. Catching a back eddy, the Frog was run three times, each time accompanied by screaming and laughing from everyone, including Grandma Hazel.
On the raft with Grandma Hazel and her family was Bernie Fandrich, who in 1973 started Kumsheen and was the raft guide for many of Hazel’s first 20 raft trips down the river. He guided the raft through the rapids, told stories about the river, and reminded Hazel about some of the rafting episodes from times past.
“This was my most enjoyable trips through the Devil’s Gorge in a long, long time,” said Bernie after the trip. “There was lots of fantastic action in every rapid, Hazel’s clan were real screamers and enjoyed every soaking they were given, the temperature was perfect, and it was fun to go down the river with Hazel again. She’s a great lady,” added Bernie.
When asked what her (retired) son thought of her going down the river at age 90, she again quipped “At my age it doesn’t really matter what my son thinks.”
When told that a 93 year old woman held the record for being the oldest person to raft the Thompson, and that she was the second oldest, Hazel replied, “Well then, I’m coming back when I’m 95.”
With her stamina and determination, everyone knows that Grandma Hazel will be back for another run down the Thompson River.