The River Rafting Adventure That Ended in Tragedy

A near-death experience while river rafting led to a life-changing journey of grief, personal growth, and pursuing a fulfilling nursing career.

The River Rafting Adventure That Ended in Tragedy

As a river rafting guide in 1979, I had the opportunity to lead trips for diverse groups of people. One particularly memorable trip involved a group of elderly participants in their late 70s and early 80s. Despite the challenging rapids of the Klamath River, we successfully navigated the trip, and the participants’ energy fields expanded far beyond their physical bodies as they embraced the adventure.
In contrast, another trip with an ill-prepared family from Los Angeles proved to be a near disaster. The children were poorly disciplined, and possessions flew everywhere as we crashed into rocks. It was an exhausting experience, but we managed to make it through.

Overcoming Fear and Trusting Intuition

After the challenging trip with the family from Los Angeles, the pilot who had brought them to Happy Camp, California offered to take my colleague Bob, his wife Liz, their children, and myself on a scenic flight over that part of Northern California. Although I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea, Bob was determined to obliterate all fear. I chose not to go.

Tragically, the plane crashed into the canyons surrounding the airport, and everyone on board died. I was grief-stricken. I also realized I could have been on that plane had I not listened to my intuition. 

Finding Purpose in Life Through the Near-Death Experience

The loss of my friends on the plane was a turning point in my life. I realized that I had been spared for a reason and that I needed to find a way to contribute to the world through service and love. This realization led me to pursue a career in nursing.

Embracing Change and Pursuing a Nursing Career

After a few adventures in San Francisco, I enrolled in nursing school in Oregon. Although I didn’t always appreciate the punitive nature of the program and the leadership styles I encountered, I knew that nursing was my calling.

As more men entered the nursing profession, they played a significant role in improving income trajectories for all nurses. I eventually returned to the East Coast, worked for Planned Parenthood, and earned my Nurse Practitioner degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Life Lessons Learned from the Near-Death Experience

  • Embrace change and adapt to life’s unpredictable nature
  • Trust your intuition and listen to your inner voice
  • Find purpose in life by contributing to the world through service and love
  • Recognize the fragility of life and cherish every moment

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: How can a near-death experience change one’s perspective on life?

A: A near-death experience can be a powerful catalyst for personal growth and transformation. It often leads to a heightened appreciation for life, a reevaluation of priorities, and a desire to live more purposefully.

Q: What role does intuition play in making important life decisions?

A: Intuition is a valuable tool that can guide us in making choices that align with our true selves. Learning to trust and listen to our inner voice can help us navigate life’s challenges and opportunities more effectively.

Q: How can pursuing a career in healthcare contribute to finding purpose in life?

A: Working in healthcare provides opportunities to serve others, alleviate suffering, and make a positive impact on people’s lives. For many, this sense of purpose and contribution to the greater good can be deeply fulfilling and meaningful.

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and it’s up to us to find meaning and purpose in the face of adversity. By embracing change, trusting our intuition, and dedicating ourselves to serving others, we can navigate life’s challenges and emerge stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.

Meet Kate And Dean Holland

17 thoughts on “The River Rafting Adventure That Ended in Tragedy”

  1. Victoria Mowrer

    Hello Kate!

    I enjoyed reading the blog post and listening to “the story” as well.

    Stories are important and I look forward to sharing the story of the adventure of the creation of my book “The Dreaming Gourd”.

    Blessed Are the Bees! And the Boomers!


  2. Hi there,

    Thank you for sharing such a profound and moving story. Your journey from a near-death experience to finding a fulfilling career in nursing is truly inspiring. It’s incredible how a single event can shift our perspective and lead us down a completely different, yet meaningful, path.

    Your account of the river rafting trips was gripping, especially the contrast between the elderly group’s adventurous spirit and the chaotic experience with the unprepared family. It’s a stark reminder of how unpredictable and challenging life can be.

    The tragedy of losing your friends in the plane crash and your decision to trust your intuition must have been a pivotal moment. It’s a powerful testament to the importance of listening to our inner voice, even when it’s difficult to do so.

    Pursuing a career in nursing as a way to contribute to the world through service and love is truly admirable. Your dedication to this profession, despite the challenges and changes in the industry, highlights your resilience and commitment to making a difference.

    The life lessons you’ve shared are valuable reminders for all of us. Embracing change, trusting our intuition, finding purpose in service, and cherishing every moment are essential principles for a fulfilling life.

    Thank you for sharing your journey and insights. It’s a beautiful reminder of how we can turn adversity into an opportunity for growth and contribution.

    Warm regards,

  3. Kate, simply amazing. Having a near death experience often puts things into perspective for us and we realize how fragile, and short, life really is. That we cannot take anything for granted, every new day is not guaranteed, and we should make the best out of the life we have and enjoy it. I have regret for not listening to my intuition on several occasions but I know I can’t change the past. So I learn from it and try to listen better in the future. You turned something tragic into something good by helping others. Now you are helping others in a different way by showing them how to have a better life. Thank you for the reply personal post.

  4. Amazing serendipity. I honor you for attaching a meaning to the events which serves you and others. The quote “The two most important days in a person’s life is they day they are born and the day they know why” certainly fits your life. Many thanks for the share.

  5. I’m sorry for your loss those many years ago, but I’m glad you were spared to tell your story of finding new purpose and helping others.

  6. Kate – What an amazing and inspirational story! While I can’t say I’ve experienced anything like what you described, I can totally understand how impactful this was to you and your future decisions and your future outlook. The story you told had a sad ending for your friend and that family. However, I truly appreciate how you used that experience to better yourself and reflect on what is important. Thank you for sharing this in your blog post. I can appreciate it may have been difficult to bring up these memories, but they are helpful to the rest of us, or at least me, as I try and understand this experience. Have a great day, my friend!

  7. Wow, that is an amazing story. Nurses are some of the hardest working underpaid people I know, they do so much and touch so many people’s lives. Truly inspirational!!!!

  8. Sarah Goulding

    Your stories are truly powerful and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing them with us Kate. The way you navigated the challenges of river rafting with such diverse groups speaks to your adaptability and leadership. I think that would be a story I’s tell for years to come. Some things you don’t forget! Overcoming the tragedy of the plane crash by trusting your intuition and finding a new purpose in life is a testament to your strength. Thank you again for sharing your incredible journey and the wisdom you’ve gained along the way.

  9. Hi Kate,

    What an inspiring story! Your journey from river rafting to nursing, spurred by a tragic event, is truly moving. It’s incredible how you turned a near-death experience into a catalyst for positive change. Your emphasis on listening to intuition and finding purpose through service is powerful. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a poignant reminder to embrace change and contribute to the greater good.


  10. What a terrible story! When we talk about a decision that change life, this is one big example here. Thanks for sharing this one. I get to cherish every moment of life, and learn to follow my intuition.

  11. Hi Kate,
    I have enjoyed reading your story, I think that your reflections on trusting intuition, embracing change, and finding purpose through service are profound. It’s a reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of listening to our inner voice. Your dedication to helping others through nursing and your resilience in the face of tragedy are admirable.

    Stories like yours offer valuable lessons and motivation for all of us to live more purposefully and compassionately. Thank you for sharing your journey and the wisdom you’ve gained along the way.

    Wishing you all the best in your journey.

  12. The devasting experience you had resulting in your decision to devote your life to nursing is truly inspirational and admirable. We have learned about the real Kate and what makes you who you are; a beautiful soul.

  13. Kate,
    I can’t even imagine the feeling of knowing you could have had the same fate as your co-worker and the others on that plane. As someone who has gotten to know, you I feel that your fate was certainly meant for more. We should trust our intuition. I agree that life is full of twists and turns and it is up to us to find our purpose in this life.

  14. So interesting that you chose a career that covers everything from life to death, the cycle of life, and the profound impact on your own life, and your own life’s purpose!!

    Too often I’ve said to myself, I should have listened to me!!
    When it counted you did!

    Awesome post. In memory of the important things in life
    Eleanor Hope recently posted…Living Our Core ValuesMy Profile

  15. Kate, Your story is truly moving and serves as a reminder of the fragility of life. Your courage in listening to your intuition and finding purpose after such a tragic experience is inspiring. Embracing change and pursuing a career in nursing despite the challenges shows resilience and determination. Thank you for sharing your life lessons and wisdom gained from this near-death experience. thanks Atif

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