By Fiona Anderson
When 96-year-old Hazel Amos steps into a Kumsheen Rafting Resort raft on the raging Thompson River this summer, she’ll be hoping to accomplish three important feats: become a Guiness World Record holder, an inspiration for active living, and to simply have a really, really good time.
Amos is no stranger to the blue waters and rampaging rapids of the legendary Thompson, for the nonagenarian has done this at least 25 times over the years — and has become the oldest Class IV whitewater rafter in anyone’s memory.
“Anybody can go to the park,” Amos quips. “But this is way more fun.”
Amos is issuing a challenge to other seniors — join her on the water on July 21 to truly experience one of British Columbia’s most iconic adventures.
“It keeps you young and don’t be afraid,” Amos says. “Just do it.”
|Rafting on a fairly flat water section of the Thompson River, nearly Lytton, B.C., with Kumsheen Rafting Resort.|
Amos is a proponent of active living, taking up swimming in her retirement, working out into her 90s and even lifting weights. Being active, she says, is one of the reasons that she’s still healthy and has been on this earth 96 years.
So, how did the former farm girl become a whitewater addict?
It’s her son’s fault.
“My brother was working up-country on the railroad in the 70s and he always saw Kumsheen rafts in the water, and thinking it was a great thing to do,” recalls Margaret Connors, Hazel’s daughter and a resident of Surrey. “We did it a few times, and then it became an annual thing — it was just a really nice way to be with family. My mother and I would drive up there and spend the day with him on the river.”
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Those days added up over the years, with dozens of family members heading to Kumsheen Rafting Resort. The resort’s founder, Bernie Fandrich, was there for many of them.
That’s why, this year, Kumsheen has applied to the Guiness World Book of Records to see if Amos’s rafting trip this year can qualify for an award. He expects an answer by about September.
“We call her Grandma Hazel, the patron saint of rafting,” Fandrich says. “We know she’s the oldest person to have rafted the Thompson River. We think she might be the oldest Class IV white-water rafter in the the world!”
This year, the annual event will once again be a family affair. Amos will head to Kumsheen, near Lytton, from Surrey, and be joined by her daughter and her husband, son and daughter-in-law, a nephew and two grandchildren.
“It’s wonderful there,” Amos says of rafting on the Thompson with Kumsheen. “Everyone’s friendly and very accommodating.”
“I’ve done it at least 25 times and we’d love to be in the Guinness Book World Records,” Amos says, “should it ever come to fruition.”