Saturday evening, we went whitewater rafting on the Lower South Fork of the Payette River. First, let me give you some advice if you’re ever going whitewater rafting on a hot August day: go in the evening. It was beautiful on the river. The water was cold, but not too cold because of the time of day, there was a nice warm breeze between rapids, and the sun hid behind the mountains most of the time, so no sunburn.
We went with Cascade Raft and Kayak again. Last summer when we went, we did a full day, where most of the day is spent lazily floating the river with rapids spread out throughout the day, they feed you lunch, and you have a lot of time to sit and look at the scenery. That was fun. This time we did the half-day trip, which is three hours, and most of that is spent in rapids. I can only remember two or three spots where we had a lot of time for conversation and checking out the scenery.
We went with Laura (aka Elle) and her husband Jesse. The drive on the bus from Cascade was fun, because once we made the turn at Banks (a turn I missed, once upon a time, and will never miss again), we could see the whitewater we would soon be navigating. And, uhm, it was really white. Also funny, because there was a group of ten Asians going on this trip, and we all got up to look at the whitewater, and while my eyes were going huge with the knowledge of my impending doom, I suddenly heard a LOT of very high-pitched oohs, ahs, and things I didn’t understand. The Asians were very excited and also could not believe they were about to do something so intense. They were cute, because the guys were even louder with the scared noises than the girls.
We parked and got the big safety talk. What to do in a number of situations–it’s one of those talks that makes you want to crawl under the bus and cry for mommy. During the talk we learned that our safety kayaker (the kayak that stays with the rafts to help people who’ve gone overboard) was a guy named Andrew. I say guy, but what I mean is kid. He looked twelve. We later learned that he’s sixteen and an expert kayaker and can be your bestest friend if you’re the man overboard. A little scary to know that your life could very well be held in the hands of someone who can’t even buy cigarettes yet, but we watched him do his thing, and he knew what he was doing.
The four of us got our life jackets, helmets (!!!), and paddles, and then we got a guide and raft to ourselves, which was cool. We were the first raft to put in. The water was coooooold on our feet when we walked the raft in, and Kevin was like, “Don’t be shy, you’ll be getting a lot more than your feet wet.”
We had one or two Class II rapids first, if I recall correctly, and then we did the Class III Bronco Billy.
We’re making great faces in this picture.
I think between Bronco Billy and our next big rapid, Staircase, was when I did something I will never tell our theoretical children about. I rode the bull. It’s not kinky like it sounds. I got up on the front of the raft, threw my legs over the front, and held on for dear life while we went through a rapid. I think Class II, but maybe Class I. I held onto a carabiner (attached to the front by our guide, Kevin) and one of the ropes on the side of the boat. It was exhilarating and scary and had me in scream-giggles until I snarfed water. Even after that, it was fun fun fun. Sadly, no pictures of this event are available.
Our next big rapid was the Class IV Staircase, the signature rapid for the Lower South Fork of the Payette River. It’s a third of a mile long, and avid rafters from all over the states have either traveled to do this rapid or heard of the rapid at one time or another. And it lives up to the hype. When we saw it, before we were in it, Elle and I gave each other looks that said everything from, “Oh, crap. We’re all gonna die,” to “Who’s gonna take care of my cats when I’m gone?”
I love this picture of Frank and Jesse. I don’t know what happened to Elle, but you can see my paddle and my helmet there behind Jesse. Kevin’s gone, too.
I love this next picture for one reason: Seeing Frank take a wall of water right in the face.
Staircase was so. much. fun. When we were done, we had a big hi-paddle-five, whooped, hollered, all that. It was AWESOME.
After Staircase, we did Fake Slalom, which I think is a Class II or III–I think II, and then Slalom, which is a Class III or IV, I can’t remember which–I think IV. It has two big drops, and the rest is easy. But the drops are insane, and Jesse and I almost flew out of the raft at the same time, and I was grabbing for the rope across the middle of the raft. It’s crazy when you feel your butt come several inches off the raft, and your whole body starts to lurch. If you don’t have your feet set right and one wedged in the raft, you’re going for a swim. We all managed to stay in the raft.
One of us got caught on film not paddling! Shame shame!
Again with the faces. Elle’s kills me. She’s just so happy to be there, not working. Haha. And Frank is so determined to beat that rapid into submission. Either that, or he’s reaaaaally concentrating, looking for Aquaman.
We had one more rapid, right at the end where the South Fork meets the North Fork. The water is about twenty-five degrees warmer where they meet, and as soon as you go into the rapid, you feel like your feet are in a warm bath. This is where Elle decided she would ride the not-kinky bull. She enjoyed it, but instead of snarfing water like I did, she got slammed back into the boat by a rather rowdy wave. The guys were no-shows on the bull riding, because they’re sissies. ;-)
We had a great time. I’m in love with whitewater rafting and can’t wait to do it again when my sister’s here next week!