Whitewater Kayaking and Near Death!

August 08, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

One of the things I was most looking forward to checking off my bucket list for not only this summer but that I have wanted to do for most of my life was white water kayaking. For as long as I can remember I have fantasized about what it would be like to paddle real white water and run a class III+ rapid. My dreams were finally going to come true this summer thanks to the Boy Scouts! The troop does an annual end of summer camping and rafting trip in North Carolina to the Nantahala River the weekend before school starts back up. The new scouts, like my little guy, have to raft with a guide, but the adults and those who have done it before have the option to raft unguided or on a funyak. I jumped on the chance to try my hand on a funyak. My husband does not share the same enthusiasm for whitewater kayaking as I do but just wanted me to "get it out of my system". The deal was we met Friday evening and followed each other up to the outfitter, Thunder River, and we camped on their property for the weekend. Saturday morning after breakfast we gathered at the main entrance at 8:45 am for safety and further instructions. We were loaded on buses and shuttled to the river. We were scheduled to do this 2 times. Once in the morning, then shuttle back for lunch, then we run the river again in the afternoon.

The river is 8 miles long. We start off with Patton's Run, which right away got our blood pumping. Then through Root Canal, Whirlpool (which I got caught in the second run) The Ledges, Little S.O.B., and the dreaded Bump but nothing prepared us for the Falls (the end).

You can see the set up above. We were in the approach to the Falls. Leigh Anne and her daughter were in front, I was set up next and Shane was behind me. Everything seemed to happen so fast.

Looks like she went in sideways, from where I was I could not see over the waves to see that she was still so close to me or in trouble.

The boat was stuck and Leigh Anne went overboard

And I ran right over her!

What you can't see is me grabbing her afterwards and pulling her to safety. Thankfully she was OK but...

My husband was not...

His worst fear about whitewater was realized. He got caught in the hydraulics and could not get out.

If it were not for swift water rescue and the throw ropes he would have drowned. He was pale, shaking and pretty much immediately sick after this and this was the morning run. Badly shaken up he felt terrible about not being able to avoid the other boat.  Believe it or not we all 4 sat together on the bus ride back and laughed it off, there were no hard feelings. These things happen and we were in the best possible place for the worst possible scenario to occur.

Little man had a much more timid and enjoyable first time white water rafting.

After swapping stories, finding out who wiped out and where, rounding up some that were left behind, bandaging up some cuts and warming up with some Cuban coffee (seriously...liquid speed) we did it all over again.

Another 8 miles!

And this time we both made it through!

16 Miles is a new record for us. It was hard paddling too! I am pretty sore but not as bad as I thought I would be. Unfortunately we had to pack it in after dinner. Shane started running a fever and pretty much has been home sick for 3 days now. The big questions: Would we do it again? Absolutely! Are we going to run out and buy whitewater kayaks? Absolutely not! This is as big as I am comfortable with, Shane, well let's just say, he really loves me and I have to respect that this is not going to be something we grow to love together. He loves the rafting though, so we will always have that. We did agree we would like to take whitewater classes just to make us better kayakers in general. So long as my son is in Boy Scouts I will always have this to look forward to each summer in the future. Next year I will bring my wet suit and booties. I didn't charge my go pro so I don't have a ton of video and I could have brought my phone to take pictures but there is a lot of class II's and I really just wanted to be in the moment. Somethings are meant to be lived. This was one of them.

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