Summer is almost gone, but there’s still time for at least one more adventure, and white water rafting is a perfect way to squeeze in a final trip with your family before the school year starts again. In this article we’ll give you a few things to remember as you pick a place to go.
Use the Pros
Make sure that your guides are licensed. Ask how many years they’ve been in business and what their guides have to do in order to get trained.
Your guides are most likely going to guide you in Class I or Class II rapids. These are going to be comfortable for families to negotiate. By contrast, Class VI rapids often have never been attempted or if they are attempted they should be attempted only by professionals in favorable conditions.
Each guiding company is different. Some may have a minimum age of 5, others might have one of 12. They might also have a minimum weight, say 40 pounds. This is very much a family-friendly activity so expect companies to account for handling kids.
Pay attention during the safety briefing: the pros can’t help you if you don’t give them your minimum focus before you get started.
They’re going to be insistent on your wearing a life jacket and helmet. These can definitely increase your chance of survival and will really help you should you somehow tip out of the boat during the journey.
You’ll be told which position to assume should you somehow get tipped out of the boat, but it never hurts to have a reminder now. The down river swimmers’ position will have you:
- head up
- on your back with your nose and toes to the sky
- holding your knees slightly bent and your feet downstream
- keeping your arms out to the side to help keep control
These companies often also offer photography services so that you don’t have to worry about waterproofing your camera (or losing it in the rapids).
Besides, do you want to focus on holding your paddle correctly and doing your part, or trying to get that picture right before the boat drops down a waterfall?
Speaking of paddles, you are always going to hold the paddle the same way. One hand will grip the top of the shaft at the junction of the “T” grip. The other is going to hold the shaft at the base of the paddle.
Keep in mind that the “T” grip is made of hard plastic and can (and often does) blacken eyes or knock out teeth, so hold on!
The last thing you are going to want to wear is cotton anything. It takes forever to dry. Pick wicking clothing to wear under your river gear. Your guides will often have a wet suit, splash jacket, and proper river shoes for you.
You might consider bringing along some cheap sunglasses to complement the sunscreen you definitely should be bringing with you.
Don’t Plan Anything Else
You are going to be tired after a day of paddling and fighting rapids in the sunshine. Your only plans afterwards should be to eat, relax, and share your impressions of how the day went.
Work As a Team
Don’t forget to have fun! After all, it’s a treat to be able to navigate waters that settlers maybe had to pass through just in order to continue their journeys to a new home.
You’ll have a chance to see wildlife and hear nature all around you.
You may have the chance to gaze up at the walls of canyons and think about how long ago all this was formed.
Finally, be prepared for a workout: a late night (including adult beverages) before this adventure will make the experience much less enjoyable. Besides, it’s better to earn those beverages after going down the river.