If anyone ever tells you that white water rafting is dangerous and you shouldn’t go, you should only listen to half of their advice. Yes, white water rafting is dangerous. Think about it. People in a tiny raft with only a life vest and helmet going over rapids that could suck you under the water at any minute and drown you should you fall out of the raft and the rapid be strong enough. Dangerous. Yes, indeed. But, this does not mean that you shouldn’t go.
Granted, I am an adrenaline junkie. If it’s dangerous and I can afford to do it, you better believe that I will be finding a way to do it.(It’s actually this theory on life that scares my mom.) It’s just in my nature. I was raised to not be afraid of anything. So, I’m not and I like to push my limits.
That is pretty much how I found myself in West Virginia two weekends ago on a white water rafting trip with my college roommate (Jackie), my usual companion (Esther) and another friend from college (Sam). We purchased a Living Social deal back in September of 2011 and began the planning on this trip then…only for it to be continually pushed back until we didn’t have another choice but to go the weekend that we did. And honestly, we had a fabulous weekend for the adventure.
Friday morning started off like any other. I wandered into work and found that we were moving offices..so that was a shock, but beyond the point. I worked until 3pm and then left to grab the last of the things we would need while we were on the trip from the Rite Aid just up the street from my apartment. I packed my things and proceeded to wait for people to arrive…only to find that Esther was running late and Jackie couldn’t catch the correct bus and she would just meet us where we had planned to pick up Sam.
Esther arrived around 5:15pm and she helped me load the car and we made our way to to the metro stop to retrieve Jackie and Sam. With another quick trip to the CVS and another repacking of the car, we were finally on our way out of Washington, DC around 6pm. This wouldn’t have been an issue except that the GPS kept telling us that it would take 5 hours to get where we were heading. I was sure it wouldn’t, you never really know until you actually get on the road.
Contrary to my actual thoughts, it did take us 5 hours to arrive at our campsite…which means we didn’t actually get there until midnight. But, the car ride down was a lovely time. Between singing all of the horrid pop music that we could possible sing as we drove down the highway, sharing awkward stories about first kisses and loves and trying to figure out where in the hell we were actually going, the drive was one that couldn’t be beat. We only stopped briefly in New Market, Virginia to get gas and food from the McDonald’s (gross I know, but my Dalek shirt managed to spark a very brief conversation with the guy at the drive-thru window).
The roads as we entered into West Virginia late at night were a tad creepy. No real road signs, no lines on the road and surrounded by trees. Our minds drifted to horror movies and we eventually settled on the strategy that if we heard banjos, we were booking it out of West Virginia. Lucky for us we didn’t hear any, however Jackie did see a man standing on the side of the road (which she neglected to tell us about until after we had driven by) and we passed a bar promoting Friday nights with DJ Shay. It was just an experience like those you see in a horror movie. Such is my life, right?
Once at the campsite, we set everything up pretty fast considering none of us had really gone camping like this and then passed out as we had a big day ahead of us.
Saturday morning came much earlier than I wanted it to. Despite Esther setting an alarm for 7am, my body decided that 6am was a much better time for me to be awake. So up I got. A trip to the bathroom and some reorganizing of the car later, it was 7am and the other girls began waking up.
We made a trip to actually check-in with the camp resort and then as we had decided figuring out breakfast wasn’t going to happen, we stopped at the resort cafeteria for breakfast. I do have to say that I was super amused when I went into the cafeteria and the boy serving seemed concerned when I said that sausage gravy wasn’t really a thing in Washington, DC.
We finished gathering ourselves together and then headed over to check-in for our day on the river, which began around 10am with putting on life vests and helmets. We boarded the bus that took us to the river and on the way were briefed out the dangers of rafting and how to solve some of the problems we would inevitably encounter. And then it was time to get in the raft, take it to the river and begin our journey.
Our raft consisted of me, Esther, Jackie, Sam, a mother and her two children (Drew, 13 and Brooke, 11) along with our river guide. Needless to say, we weren’t exactly the strongest of crews and yet we were the ones who led the expedition down the river.
After struggling to get the raft down into the water and then going over basic commands in the raft, we were finally on our way. And what was the first rapid we came in contact with, a class III. It was nothing beyond scary the first time, but we all quickly warmed up to it. Soon, all of us were having a blast as we rafted everything from class I to class V rapids and even got into the water and let the current take us along. We even had the opportunity to jump off of a rock at least 30 feet out of the water. I’ve never had so much.
The long day on the river didn’t really hit until we were finally back on land. That’s when I realized just how tired I was. We road back to camp, cleaned ourselves up and then went to see the video of us coming down the river. Dinner then became a priority. We bought firewood and returned to camp with the intention of starting the fire and making chili and hotdogs.
Sadly, our efforts to build a fire were met badly and we ended up having Sam ask the gentlemen from another camp for help. We did get a fire started thanks to our friend Dayton (from Indiana, not Ohio) and then dinner followed by s’mores happened. By 9:30pm, we were all exhausted and just trying to stay awake for the fireworks that the resort promised us was hard. We did manage it though and then we returned to camp to just sleep.
Sunday came much quicker than I wanted and I was told that I was the only person who actually slept really well. This was a good thing as I was the one who was to drive home.
Once everyone was up, Esther managed to make us a fire and I cooked us eggs over the fire while Jackie boiled water for coffee/tea and Sam gathered sticks and leaves to continue feeding the fire. The eggs were not the greatest things ever made over a fire, but they were at least edible and they held us over until we stopped for lunch.
After breakfast, we packed the tent and the car to head for home. With a car ride less scary than the way down, the scenery was quite lovely. We stopped in Virginia for lunch at Cracker Barrel, only to run into a giant thunderstorm in the Shenandoah Valley that continued mostly through to DC. We continued to drive as I’d driven through storms like that before and we were fine.
Around 7pm, the drops off at houses started. First with Sam, then Jackie, then Esther and finally I made it home.
I grabbed my things from the car, wandered up to Mordor (my apartment) and collapsed. I was exhausted, but it was an amazing weekend and I sure as hell want to do it again. This trip was well worth it.
And that brings me back to the beginning of my post. If you ever get the chance to go rafting, I suggest taking it. It is amazing and really something that you’ll never forget.
All photos in this post were taken by or belong to Sam and I have just used them. The photos taken by Sam on my waterproof camera will be up soon. I just need to get them off…but I’m failing as I usually do in that sense. Soon.