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SURVIVE | A Rafting Trip Run Awry

Three friends and I—all expert river guides—set out to raft northern California's Putah Creek, an outstanding stretch that's only runnable during major winter storms, when it's possible to do the 17-mile run in one day. We got the storm, but we didn't put in until noon, leaving zero room for error. We had errors. —Derrick Wydick

Click to see larger image.

Catherine Stifter is a wilderness emergency medical technician and a longtime river rafter.

"Mother Nature can be a harsh teacher, especially in high-risk situations. While starting late put you up against the wall, especially with minimal food and shelter, you made sound decisions for group safety once you reached your limit. You've also thought through the lessons of the experience, which is a great thing. Better luck next time!"

Illustrations by Koren Shadmi

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