I think I may have mentioned a few times that I am not as fearless as I once was. I admit that I am not usually jumping at chances to try new things, whether new things are food or activities. So when my sister-in-law mentioned that she wanted to go whitewater rafting and wanted others to join her, I quickly said I could stay home to watch the kids while others went. But Jeremy talked me into it, and after the fact, I am so glad he did.
I loved it! Yes, I was super nervous, but after I was signed up, I knew it was a challenge I had to conquer for myself. Unfortunately, the intro video did not help. Basically they have to legally tell us about the risks, which include death! Of the over 2 million people who have rafted with them, only 16 have died, and they were usually because of other medical problems. We were supposed to feel better having known that, I think. Ok. Then we get to the training portion of it to make sure we understood hand signals and what NOT to do. The key thing they told us was that if we fell out of the boat, do not let our feet touch the bottom because of entrapment at which point rescue is basically impossible. Ok.
THANK GOODNESS we got a boat with a guide. Granted, we paid extra for it, but I am so glad we did. There was no way I would ever do this without a guide in my boat, no matter if we were on a trip with other guides in other boats. I was so glad he was in OUR boat. He told us exactly when to paddle forward or backward or to lean in or get in the back or whatever was needed to make our ride go smoothly.
On the other hand, our guide was there to scare us! He kept talking about Dimple Rock like it was this big ominous thing ahead of us. He had us practice our “dimple paddle,” which was basically a fast and frantic forward paddle to get us through the rapids around Dimple Rock and not get tipped over. He built up this rapid like it was the bane of our existence. You can only imagine that it got me more and more nervous. What had I gotten myself into? As we got to Dimple Rock, we saw warning signs on the shore. “Warning – Dimple Rock ahead! Consider alternate routes or portage.” Ok. I built up my adrenaline as we saw other rafts go through the rapids first. We watched a couple flip and saw other guides jumping in from the rock to help them get back into the raft or to get them out of the water. Talk about intimidating!
But with our “dimple paddle” and trusty guide, Ed, we made it through! In fact, our entire group of 7 boats made it through the rapids without flipping! Quite a feat! It was such a rush, and I loved it (after the fact, of course!) All in all, we went through four Class 4 rapids and several Class 3 rapids. They got easier and more fun as we went on. And having Ed in our boat allowed us to do some things other boats without guides didn’t get to do. It was really cool.
Besides Dimple Rock, my biggest fear was falling out of the boat. My sister-in-law and their cousin fell in at one point early on in the trip. It was scary since it was so early on, and we didn’t have our confidence built up. Luckily all was fine, and they got back into the boat without much problem. It was crazy to see that it could happen so easily without warning. But soon after them falling in, I had my turn. Going through a rapid, I fell right out. You really don’t even realize what is happening until you are in the cold water. We were still going through some rapids, and it was shallow where I was, so all I could think was “Don’t touch the bottom! Entrapment! AAAGHHHH” My feet brushed along the rocky bottom, and I heard Ed yell, “Get her in! Get her in!” I was back in the boat within 30 seconds, but it was scary and quite a rush. On the good side, though, it let me know it was ok if I fell in. I could handle it, and it would be ok. But man oh man!!!!
In the end, I am so glad I challenged myself and tried something new. I would definitely do it again, although I’ll stick to the Class 3’s and some 4’s. Jeremy and his sister are already excited about the next level, but I certainly won’t be joining them. To give a sense of comparison, our trip (Lower Yough) had an average drop of 18 feet per mile. The next challenge for them will be the Cheat River, which has a 40-50 foot drop per mile. And what they are building up to is the Upper Yough, which has an average 150-180 foot drop per mile! Um, no thanks! I’m good.