White Water Rafting
Yesterday, I had my first taste of white water rafting on a class 3 river.
I have been white water rafting before, but it was on a class 1 river, and the main part was watergun battles with other rafters. It didn’t require very much paddling, since there are only a few rapids.
The first thing I did was get a floatation device and a helmet. Then, the entire rafting group (about 40 people) got a safety talk. At first, some of the things you have to do seem counterintuitive. If you fall out of the boat and into a shallow area, you DO NOT stand up, and if you are stuck under the boat for some reason, the guide will stomp on your head to get you out. Some of the other stuff does make sense, though. You have to hold the paddle by the t-grip so you don’t whack somebody with it and you have to paddle in sync with the other rowers.
The boat I got onto was yellow and could fit in 7 (squashed) people. The guide was one of them. She was there to make sure that my group of people didn’t get stuck. She assigned us each to a spot on the boat. I got the back right seat.
Getting into the boat was a bit tricky. I had to get into the river. It was COLD! The water came into my shoes, which made my feet feel like ice blocks for a bit. I got onto the raft, and my feet felt a little warmer.
The guide showed us how to paddle forwards and backwards and how to turn. Once we all knew how to paddle, we all went into the river. At the start, the water was very calm (class 1). Then we started going through some rapids and whitewater. We all had to paddle a lot, especially in the whitewater areas. If you don’t paddle there, you’re probably going to crash and/or fall out of the boat.
All rapids are fun, but in my opinion, the best ones are the ones that go fast and splash you a lot. Most of the time, it’s only the front that ends up being splashed, so it’s a nice surprise when I get wet. Some rapids have names, such as Highway.
When we were very close to the lunch place, somebody fell out of the boat and into a whitewater area. We couldn’t get her because we had to stop for lunch. Rafts can’t go against the current of a river, so if we didn’t stop, we’d go ahead of the other rafters in the company. Luckily, another group of rafters caught her.
Then, my group stopped to have lunch. I ate a sandwich and had some lemonade. They tasted very good after rafting so long. After we finished refreshing ourselves and eating lunch, my group went back to the river.
After a while on the river, we encountered the Lollipop Tree, a round tree on top of a hill. It marked the official entrance to the Gorge, where the class 3 rapids were.
Our guide called out a lot of instructions once we got to the Gorge. Several times, we had to backpaddle to avoid crashing into something. The whitewater areas there were more intense (and I got splashed a lot more, too). The boat always ended up turning to the right, for some reason. The guide always had to make sure that we were facing forwards before a rapid.
Once, we went through a part called Scissors, and ended up turning backwards! The guide had us paddle forwards, which, while we were backwards, had the same effect as if we were facing forwards and paddling backwards. We eventually were able to get ourselves facing the right way.
In one part, there was an area called Hospital, which was a HUGE wave. It went over my head and also knocked some other people (including my dad) into the boat. Even with that, I had to stay ready to paddle. Right after the huge wave was a rock called Catcher’s Mitt, because a boat could get caught there. We were lucky, and only bounced off.
After Hospital was Recovery Room, a gentler rapid. We passed through easily.
Soon, though, we saw the Lollipop Tree again, marking the official exit of the Gorge. We paddled into a flat area, with no rapids at all. In almost no time at all we had to get out of the river, so we could go home.
Rafting in a class 3 river is extremely fun, and I hope that I can go again soon.