It was 6:30 am when I opened my eyes on Saturday morning. I was filled with excitement about the days events, exhausted but full of anticipation. We had to be at Wild Water Outdoor Center by 8:30 am to check in and it was about 20 minutes from where we were staying so we left camp at 8.
On the ride to the Wild Waters, we were imagining what the trip, our guide and the other people are going to be like. It was the first time J and I have been whitewater rafting and we were not sure what to expect. The first thing you have to do after telling the lady in the store that you are there, you have to sigh a release of liability. The first sentence on the form states that you are aware and are liable for any bodily injury, including paralysis, decapitation etc.. this line made us laugh so hard because we were just talking about getting hurt on this trip. We walk around back to where the guides are in the middle of preparing the boats and equipment for the trip. We got fitted for vests, helmets, paddles and was offered a full wet suit or a wet suit top. J and I opted not to wear either wetsuit option since it did look like it was going to be a very nice day. Well I opted not to wear one because I wanted to get a tan while I was on the water and J opted not to wear one because our very skinny guide wasn't going to wear one so he figured he would be fine. The guides loaded the filly inflated boats on top of an old blue school bus while all of us waited for the ok to board the bus. The guides had to stall a little because this time of the year the Indian and Hudson rivers are a low and a dam releases water daily around 10am, which makes it easier to raft. We finally board the bus and are off to the "Put in" , about 15- 20 mins away.
All of us looked pretty silly riding on the bus with our helmets and vests on. About half way there, one of the guides, Mark ( which turns out to be our guide), gets our attention and explains to us the dos and dont's for the day. He mostly explained what to do if you fall out of the boat and other safety tips for the day. Most of the river we were going to raft, it not accessible by car so he advised getting out and walking was not a good idea and also reminded us if we get hurt, the only way out is to raft the rivers. If we were to fall out of the boat, we should not try and stand up because that increases the chance that your foot would get stuck on a rock, branch or other item and that will create a very dangerous situation. After his speech, my nervousness came back and I was determined not to fall out of the boat. We get to the "Put in" where all the boats are put in :) , and realize there are a lot of companies with multiple boats rafting today. Our company had 3 boats with 6 people per boat. Later we realize that there are about 40 boats with at least 6 people a boat rafting today. The guides unload the boats from the top of the bus, assign us to a guide and a boat and we gathered with our group. I was lucky to have the group I had, it was me, J and 4 other guys, which meant I didn't have to struggle carrying the boat from our bus to the riverbank or back out of the river at the end. Yeah me :) Our guide Mark goes over a few tips when rafting, #1 always listen to him, he will tell us when to paddle, how hard to paddle and if we have to get down. He also explained where to sit on the boat, how to hold the paddle at all times and what to do when we have to get down ( lean low into the center of the boat).
Our 3 groups carried the boats to the riverbank and one by one, where the boats are put in the water. I made sure I was sitting in the middle, in front of J, just in case I fell out, he would be closest to grab me. Mark explained we had to all paddle in unison to make the boat move smoothly, especially in the rapids so we practiced that and listening to his commands. After he felt we were ready, we headed down the Indian River. It was surprising when I got soaked by the first rapid but to my relief, the water was warm and refreshing. It was sunny and warm but will the equipment on and paddling, I was getting hot so the first splash was perfect. I believe this is also where the first person went in the water from our boat. Mark yelled "watch out" as we got into the rapid, which means you get low and lean in the middle of the boat, and the front guy didn't lean low enough and out of the boat he went. He grabbed the line on the outside of the boat quickly and the other guys grabbed his life vest and pulled him in. I know this is going to sound mean but I became relaxed, knowing I was not going to be the first person in the water. He didn't get hurt or anything but the look on his face was that of shock. He proceeds to fall out of the boat two more times during our trip. Mark starts to explain to us a few things about the water and rapids suck as eddys and how they hold you where you are and how to surf the rapids. We paddle on and off down the river hitting some fun warm up rapids here and there. There is a section of the trip that the water is calm so mostly everyone gets out of the boats and swims a little. Now I am not a fan of getting in water you can't see the bottom of but I am a good swimmer and I do have a life vest on so I decide to get in. J had already beat me into the water and was swimming right along. I was not that brave to go very far from the boat and for most the time held onto the boat so I knew I wouldn't swim anywhere I shouldn't. We were able to swim for about 15 minutes and I was so excited that we were swimming, I forgot to pee. Yes this does sound disgusting but there isn't a Johnny on the Spot or anything on the riverbank for the 6 hour trip and peeing in the river it a better option then peeing in the woods at our lunch brake. Needless to say, I held it for the rest of the trip. Somewhere in the middle of the trip, the boats stop on the riverbank and we are provided with lunch. They had sandwiches, apples, crackers w/peanut butter and water for our 3 boats. The break lasted about 20 minutes and we were back in the water headed down the Hudson.
We came to a few rapids and Mark talked us through surfing the rapids. The boat goes past the rapid, we try to find an eddy to hold us for a moment or two and then we paddle as hard as we can towards the rapid and once there, you try to get a lot of water in the boat so it holds you there and the rapids come crashing into the boat. Our attempts were successful and it was so much fun!! On some bigger rapids, other boats tried and failed at surfing but our boat was successful every time we tried. I am sure it was due to the men in the boat and our guide's instructions. On one of the larger rapids we were surfing, one of the guys (Steve), was leaning out over the water, trying to get water into the boat so it would hold us there, lost his grip and went into the water. The rapids pulled him under our boat and shot him right out the other side. I didn't laugh that time because I thought he was injured at first but he seemed to have liked it. I am so glad we got Mark for our guide, he was a lot of fun and had us surfing a lot of the rapids.
Along the Hudson, there was a large rock coming out of the water, where the guides stopped the boats so you could climb it and jump off into the water if you wanted to. This is something I was not interested in at all. I knew I would hurt myself if I attempted it but J and 3 of the guys wanted to so Mark stopped the boat there. The guide told us that the rope is just to hold the boat and not for climbing as he gets to the top of the rock. J starts to climb up the rock, grabs the rope and ends up falling back down the rock into the boat. Of course I starting laughing, well I knew he wasn't hurt. He got right back up, maybe a little embarrassed, climbed the rock and jumped off the other side. It looked like fun but I am not the graceful and have a tendency to make an ass of myself when in situations like that.
After rock jumping, we continued down the Hudson through the gorge. The scenery is absolutely breath taking at this point of the trip. All along, the scenery was amazing, rich green trees, in the middle of no where but the gorge was something else. You look up and see these huge tall rock type edges, with tree's roots exposed and you feel really small in comparison. It's here on the trip that I regretted not buying one of the waterproof disposable cameras they offered in the store where we had to check in. As J said " It's scenery just for your memories". This is also the part of the trip that i slightly started to regret not getting a wetsuit top. The sun had gone away, the air cooled off and it looked like a storm was heading our way. I asked Mark what so they do if it rains, which his reply was obvious after I heard it. He said since the only way out of this area is by car, you have to paddle to the end of the trip so you can get to a road, rain or shine. He also explained there isn't a lot of danger involved, since you are in a rubber boat, with plastic helmets and paddles and in the middle of huge trees. The likely hood of you getting struck by lighting is slim. It did sprinkle off and on for the rest if the trip and I was a tad chilly but I was not about to let any of the men in the boat know that :)
The last hour or so of the trip was a semi boring. We had missed or were in front of the bubble ( the water from the dam) and moving very slow. We could have paddled to speed it up but the water was very shallow and our boat kept getting stuck on rocks. That is the way the 3rd guy fell out of the boat. It stopped abruptly on a rock and doink, he fell right out over the side. Now that made me laugh a lot ( it wasn't just me laughing, don't think I mean) and I was exhausted by then, which makes me giggle at anything. I was wet, chilly, had a headache ( lack of water, due to having to pee for the last 6 hours) and we were moving so slow. I could tell J and the others were tired too, our boat became very quiet. We finally got to the riverbank( around 4:30) where we had to carry our boat up to the road where the bus was waiting for us. J and some other guys helped the guides load the boats back on top of the bus and then we were back on the road.
Once we were back, they had a BBQ dinner all ready for the boaters. Salad, veggie tray, chicken, potatoes, corn, cookies and refreshments. The food was delicious and much needed. During the last rapids we went through on the Hudson, a guy that works for Wild Waters, took pictures of the boats. He had the pictures showing a TV while we were eating. we had the option to buy single pictures, multiple pictures or a CD with your boats pictures on it. J and I opted to buy the CD. The picture posted on the blog are from that CD.
After eating dinner, we headed back to camp. We were so tired!! J attempted to start a fire but decided he would lay down and I went to the bathroom to freshen up but joined J after and we napped. It didn't seem that we did that much paddling etc on the water but our nap probably could have lasted all night but we deiced that would not be good. We got up, J started that fire and we relaxed for a couple of hours. The next day morning we were heading to up to Plattsburgh, to his family's cabin and then to his parents.
Just in case you are wondering.... my chapstick survived in J's pocket during the trip, thank goodness :)