Over the weekend I had an incredible opportunity to try White Water Rafting for the first time. I went with a group of teachers from the South Coast of Massachusetts and we went with a company called the Northern Outdoors. The total cost for the trip was $170.00 per person, but I got to say, it was worth it! The cost included a two-night stay in a Cabin-tent, which is a pre-made tent with four cots on the inside of it. It genuinely feels like adult summer camp. These structures feel spacious, and allowed my friends and I to enjoy the outdoors without the hassle of setting up a tent, which was great, since we arrived Friday night at about 11pm.
Our day began at 745, where we met our small group of 12 rafters at the Lodge. We were provided with two rafting guides- Ryan and Ashley. Both of them were super informative and upbeat. The $170.00 also included all of the gear we needed- neoprene suits, life jackets, and paddles. Ryan gave us a quick run through of what we could expect once we arrived on the water. At this point we also specified what we wanted for lunch, which was included in the total price- a choice between salmon, chicken, steak or veggie burger.
After the quick explanation of what to expect, we stripped down to our swimsuits and squeezed our way into the neoprene suits. It was a cold day, so we also had neoprene jackets. I gotta say, we all looked a little like the Incredibles with our Neoprene wetsuits!
After getting dressed, and going through the different actions, we hopped on a bus, and got off at the top of the Kennebec River. As a first timer, I got a little nervous when I learned that these were class 3 rapids. As I had learned this weekend, commercial rafting can only happen on classes 1-5; 6 is to dangerous. I could feel my heart beat a little faster as I hopped into the inflatable yellow raft.
“All right!” Ryan said to our crew, “The first task is to paddle across the river!”
As we paddled across, I looked over and could see the little curls of water up ahead. As a group, we needed to paddle in unison to control the raft. As I looked to the mouth of the river, I felt excited. We paddled toward the swiftly moving water. The current took our raft down river rapidly, and then-
“This one’s called the Big Mama!” Ryan called out.
The first wave crashed over the raft. Brisk water poured over our faces. In the moment, we all continued to paddle in unison, enjoying the current. Wave after wave tossed our raft up and down, creating an excited and gregarious vibe on our raft.
Each feature of the river had a unique and distinctive name, and between the rapids, we (the rafters) became savvy to the river’s tricks. Our guide helpfully pointed out Eddies, discussed the currents and informed us about upcoming rapids.
“Imagine being a logger and seeing the river drop off up ahead…. that’s what we will be seeing next. Magic Falls.”
Indeed, the river did appear to drop down. Our raft followed the current, and we paddled in unison to see the best parts of the rapids. After Magic Falls, we had an opportunity to swim in class 2 rapids. It was about 60 degrees out.
I knew I had to try this. I sat on the edge of the yellow raft with two of my closest friends- Steph and Jess. We slid into the freezing river and started swimming upstream. The water splashed over my face, enveloping my body, and entering every available crevice of the wetsuit. Once I got to the rapids I flipped over so that my nose and toes faced the sky. Waves crashed over my face, the current wildly bringing me downstream. I could see Jess and Steph close by. I closed my eyes and felt the current take me downstream.
Our yellow raft was up ahead, and our rafting members hoisted each of us back into the raft. Our wetsuits worked fantastically. We were chilly, but not nearly as cold as we would have been without our gear, and our bodies dried quickly. We reached an island where we stopped for gorp, and took a quick break. The other boat’s guide, Ashley, shared her tea with a fellow rafter who was shivering.
From there we continued down the rapids, enjoying every piece of nature around the Kennebec River. The scenery was gorgeous, and we saw a handful of waterfalls, even getting to experience sitting in one of them (pictures to follow!)
Overall, the experience was fantastic. The trip was incredible, relaxing, and exciting. The guides created a warm and friendly vibe throughout the trip, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to try white-water rafting. We got back around 2pm, and were able to view a slideshow of our adventure and purchase the pictures while enjoying an absolutely delectable lunch.
Not only was this exciting, but being in the raft with no electronics or distractions provides everyone aboard with a genuine opportunity to reflect and connect: and, this is probably the most valuable part of the entire trip.