As promised, here is my post about whitewater rafting!
I had been looking forward to it, but as Saturday approached I started to get really nervous. Why is it that whenever you tell someone you’re going whitewater rafting, they feel obligated to share a horror story?
We drove up to Ducktown, Tennessee, where the rafting place was located, along the Ocoee River (about 2 hours from Atlanta). Upon arrival, we were “debriefed” about the equipment, and what to do if you fall out. I was sooo nervous by this point. I think what really clenched it was another coworker telling me that “Class 4 rapids are not for wimps”. I am a self-proclaimed wimp.
We started on the Upper Ocoee river. Some of you may remember that the whitewater competitions for the 1996 Summer Olympics were held here. During the nights and the winters, they actually turn off the Ocoee River and use the water to generate electricity. It is turned on 54 days of the year for primarily rafting and kyaking. It’s interesting because in one section, since most of the time there is no water, there are all these small trees growing out of the water.
The beginning of the Upper Ocoee is pretty tame, and our guide was excellent. It was obvious he loved what he did. We asked him how long he’d been a guide, and he responded, “Since Tuesday.” Later he told us that this was his 11th year as a guide on the Ocoee, and he’d also been a guide on the Colorado River out west. After comparing notes with the other raft that was part of our group, we decided that who your guide is makes all the difference in the world.
The end of the Upper Ocoee, at the Olympic section, was quite exciting – going from one rapid to the next. I believe he said one of them was a Class 5, but I can’t remember for sure. We were smooth sailing down the river – it was exciting, and definitely not as scary as I was expecting. Our guide told us exactly what to expect and so we were prepared.
Then we did the Middle Ocoee, which had less intense rapids but more of them. I think I even enjoyed that more. A couple of times our guide even had us go into the rapids again, which was great fun. A few places we were able to go out and swim alongside the boat, which reminded me of lazy river rafting with Gerig. :-) I love the water!!
My favorite rapid was called Double Suck, where it got you twice. We were tossed around and water splashed all around us, but we all remained safely in the boat. I’m glad no one fell out, but I did enjoy getting wet. :-) All too soon (4 hours later!) the trip was over, and we all trooped onto the bus, exhausted and wet. I wasn’t expecting it to be such hard work, but it was fine, even for an out of shape wimp like me. We had to do a lot of paddling (it’s not a boat ride), but that really helps you concentrate and not focus on huge rapids approaching.
All in all, it was an excellent trip. I should have blogged about it yesterday when it was still fresh in my mind but… well this post is long enough already. I definitely recommend whitewater rafting!! It’s not as scary as you might think it’s going to be (unless you’re just absolutely terrified of water). SO much fun!! And it was great to hang out with my coworkers.
Okay enough of that. :-) Pictures to come later! When I get them.