At the get in (a private get in further up the river than the standard commercial get in, that allowed us to do a load more rapids) we had a introduction to whitewater rafting - how to sit in the boat; how to paddle; what to do if you fall in, etc. We then got split into two groups - it was the bachelor party in one boat with Todd, and the couple (Darrell and Amanda) and me in the other with Drew. Once in the river we did a bit of practicing paddling forward, paddling backwards, and turning, and then got going - the couple had both rafted the river before, so I was the only beginner in the boat. As we had fewer people in our boat we were a bit more nimble and manoeuvrable than the other guys. The top half of the river was a succession of class III rapids and we survived them all and I got the hang a paddling on a raft (which is unsurprisingly quite different that being in a kayak, it being a big open rubbery-ring thing rather than a plastic thing that you're enclosed in). About halfway down we reached a bit where there was a class V fall, which we walked around. After the fall there was the opportunity to rejoin the rafts either by jumping of a ~20 ft drop into the very cold (it being glacial melt water filtered through basalt) water, or walking down. Me and four others choose the jumping option.
After that there were a few more nice rapids, but the main event of the trip was the final Husum falls - about a 10 ft drop that's apparently one of the larger commercially rafted falls in the US. Before reaching it we practiced what to do when we went over the fall - drop onto the floor of the raft and grab onto the available lines. We ran the fall quite easily, but got quite a soaking at the bottom.
|Rafting the White Salmon river|
It was a fun trip. The guides were really good guys and the other rafters were very nice. But, I have to say, I'd have far preferred to kayak the river. In the raft you actually don't get to do much - you hardly need to paddle - and as it's so big you don't get the proper feeling going through waves and off drops (it kind of smoothes everything out). I do think it would be fantastic to run in a kayak though. I would recommend rafting, but probably you'll enjoy it more if you've not kayaked any class III or higher stuff before. I would also highly recommend doing a trip with Wet Planet Whitewater too.
My drive back was quite tiring and I actually now ache far more from sitting in a car for nearly six hours than from the paddling.