Saturday, August 8, 2009

Whitewater on the Arkansas River

About half our people had never been white water rafting before, so our first full day camping had everyone wanting to go. After breakfast, 7 us of packed up to go. Myself, Marla and Alex, Kris, Kyle, Delaney, and Kendall all piled into Tia’s truck and drove out. The boys and Kendall rode in the back as we headed 7 miles downstream to a place recommended by our campground.

We got there and unloaded, only to find out they had no more runs for the day. So we packed back up and tried the next place down the road. This time Marla went in alone and came back to tell us they could take us in about 30 minutes. Apparently the problem is finding a guide that can take you down. The end of the season has most of the guides heading back to college or somewhere else, so that’s the limiting factor.

So we hung out. I sat with Kendall in the ofice where they had two small puppies: a black lab and a border collie. Kendall loved playing with the puppies and had a great time. After that we went down and skipped some rocks in the river, which was moving pretty good, and cold, but not frigid.

Finally it was time to go, and we had to pick out life vests and booties. Once everyone was geared up, we had the safety talk, which consisted of basics, but it was good to see the little ones paying attention. With a couple trips back to the car, back to the office for Chums ot hold sunglasses, and then back down, we were ready. The 7 of us piled in a van along with our guide for the ride down the road to the put in point.

Our guide told us that rafting vans follow an order:

  • Someone buys them
  • They get sold as used vans
  • A church buys them
  • Then a school
  • then a rafting company.

He estimated that ours had 400,000k miles on it, and it felt like it. Still it was a nice ride down the valley a few miles where we unloaded and got ready. Another of their boats had put in higher, but with Kendall and Delaney, he was worried about a few rapids, so we put in below them on the river.

While waiting he showed us how to paddle and assigned us seats. Alex and I were in front, Kyle and Kris in the middle, and Delaney and Marla in the third row. Kendall sat in the back with the guide and didn’t paddle. Once we saw the other boat, after about a 10 minute wait, we were off.

I had visions of high whitewater, the raft being at a 50 degree angle, and a few of us being launched into the air. It was nothing like that. It was a little uncomfortable, with one leg (the outer leg), in a holder, and the other (inside leg) jammed between the side and bottom, and a slightly uncomfortable and touqued angle. It was good, however, as we stayed in and I could actually lean back and dip my head in the water, backwards.

We paddled along, not really seeing too many tough rapids. A few class IIIs and some short class IVs. Nothing seemed scary, and Kendall dropped down into the boat when she was worried. The rest of us sat on the edges of the boats, which was strange. However we could paddle well and our guide was good, letting the river work us, and not having us paddle too much.

I did get to use my paddle, however, splashing backwards to soak Delaney and Kyle. Delaney had a good time and splashed me as much as possible. I was pretty soaked, and he was too. I was glad I hadn’t worn a shirt.

We got to one point and our guide said we could jump in the water. I don’t think any of us believed him until he jumped in, at which point I was in, along with everyone else. Kendall especially seemed to like that. Getting back in was hard, and we ended up having to pull each other back in.

It was over 2 hours on the river, though it went quick. The little kids really enjoyed it, and both asked the next morning to go again. We also got a recommendation for breakfast burritos from our guide, and Kris, Kyle, Delaney and I tried it the next day.

The ride back was interesting, with 2 guides, and everyone from both boats, 13 people piled into the van. Probably slightly unsafe, but we made it back fine.

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