Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A WIPpet and a Rapid . . .

White-water rafting down the Snake and Salmon Rivers made a thrilling summer excursion for me several years back. These are the kinds of experiences we may treasure and, as writers, later mine for that telling detail.

Today is WIPpet Wednesday, that day a few writers commit to posting an excerpt from their current WIP (work in progress). The snippet needs to relate to the date in some way. In this case, 12 sentences for the month of December.

Context: In Rivers of Stone, Catriona, disguised as a boy, travels with the fur brigade in 1846, to rejoin Dougal, her husband. This week, we catch up with them just north of Revelstoke, when they pass the Dalles des Morts (death rapids).  

Just ahead, a great sucking hole opened up in the river, white swirling, circling waves at the edge and deep green in the wide center. Mesmerized, Cat leaned toward the hole. She could see almost all the way to the bottom, an immense hole that could swallow the canoe, their packs, and everyone aboard. For a few tense minutes, their canoe wavered, the men paddled wildly, and the canoe skirted the very edge of the whirlpool.

The men shouted in relief as they scooted past the pull of the whirlpool.

“Whoopee! If she caught us in that, we wouldn’t pop out ‘til spring,” said Pierre.

Cat’s eyes glassed over. Her heartbeat slowed. No wonder Dougal wanted me to stay in York. She clenched the pouch that yet hung from her neck. I’m still alive.

While our guide on that summer excursion told us that boats had been pulled down into the whirlpool and hadn't come up until spring, what I remember most was staring straight down into the center hole of the whirlpool and feeling the boat shiver at its edge.

Here's a photo of this stretch of the river from Frances Hunter's post on Lewis & Clark's voyage through this specific stretch of the Columbia:

Dalles Des Morts (Frances Hunter)

Inspired by Kate Schwengel and now hosted by Emily Witt, why not check out what other WIPpet writers have posted HERE.