Thursday, June 17, 2010
White Water Rafting
Rafting’s a sport accomplished while sitting down. But don’t confuse it with couch surfing. If you’re in a paddleboat, the guide relies on you for power, meaning forward and reverse strokes on a moment’s notice. And the strokes have to count--you can’t be lazy when things get rough. Since rafts don’t have guardrails (or the ability to right themselves), swimming--while restricted with lifejacket and in current--is also a real possibility.
Tour operators usually provide everything you need, including wetsuits, lifejackets, paddles, and rafts. Don’t become a private river runner unless you have ample space to store your gear and the towing capacity (truck and/or trailer) to get it to the river. Aside from the raft and paddles (or frame and oars), other essentials include a pump, patch kit, and a throw rope and lifejackets for every participants. Other frills include coolers, cargo nets, and drybags.
Under the guidance of professionals, you’ll learn the difference between paddle and oar rafts, and such techniques as highsiding (jumping to the high side of the raft to avoid flipping), keeping the boat straight and rigging flip lines to right the boat in the event of a capsize. Your best bet: Sign up for a multiday trip, where you'll also learn the basics of river camping, including the age-old art of setting up the river toilet.
Speak the Language
Class I-VI: An international scale of difficulty for rating rapids, with I being the easiest and VI being technically unrunnable.
Highside: Jumping to the "high" side of the raft to level it out and prevent capsizing when it's pinned against a rock or stuck in a hydraulic.
Self-bailer: A modern line of raft with an inflatable floor, allowing water that comes in to flow back out without the need for bailing.