Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day off

I started my day with a nice 2 hour 45 minute drive from Richland to the White Salmon river (Google maps was quite accurate in it's allotted trip time). As I said previously I was off to raft the river with these guys. I arrived about an hour early (seeing as I wasn't completely sure how long the drive would take, so I left quite a bit of leeway), so went and had a look at the river and the Husum falls - there were a few kayakers paddling about. I was the first to arrive, but soon after a large group of guys who'd be rafting with us turned up, followed (a bit late) by another local couple. The group were a bunch of guys (mainly from Seattle) who were out on a bachelor weekend - they'd had a big night in Portland the night before, but seemed quite perky and up for it (well the groom-to-be was looking a bit pale, but he made it through ok). Our river guides for the day were Todd (one of the co-founders of the company) and Drew - they kitted us out and then drove us up to the get in.

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.