Whitewater rafting is insanely fun. I’ve canoed and floated and skied and tubed and kayaked, but never have I whitewater rafted. Until this past weekend, that is, when Jax and I were lucky enough to hit the Ocoee River with twenty-eight of our thrill-seeking friends. I’ll share insight into the entirety of our Fourth of July weekend later, but for now I want to dedicate a post specifically to whitewater rafting, because IT IS AWESOME!
Here’s our Ocoee crew, geared up and ready to attack the river:
We divided into groups of five or six, then paired up with a guide and went through some basic paddling and safety drills. My group got lucky and had an awesome guide, whom we dubbed Stan the Man. From the start, we clarified that we wanted a “wild, not mild” ride, and he surely delivered. We rafted the Middle River, which is five miles of continuous Class III and Class IV rapids with ominous (and aptly descriptive) names like Grumpy’s Ledge, Broken Nose, Diamond Splitter, and Hell’s Hole.
For clarification purposes, Wikipedia breaks it down like so:
CLASS III – Medium to moderately difficult rapids with high irregular waves, narrow channels, rocks and holes; some maneuvering required.
CLASS IV – Difficult to very difficult; long turbulent rapids with powerful waves and holes, many obstacles requiring precise maneuvering
Stan the Man did everything he could to give us a thrilling, adrenaline-pumped experience; we surfed and spun our way through the turbulence, purposely crashing the raft headfirst into rocks and projecting into the water, pulling moves with names like Dump Truck and Dukes of Hazzard. We laughed and cheered the entire way (boomshakalaka) and weren’t even close to being ready for the ride to be over.
Here are some hilarious action shots as we make our way through Double Trouble:
Interesting fact: The Ocoee River was the site of the 1996 Olympic Whitewater Competition and ranks as one of America’s Top Ten Rivers. And I love it. And I want to go back next year. And the year after that, forever and always.