|be adventurous | July 2016
Wonderful white water
by Ginger Johnson
When you think of the words "white water", what mental image do you see? Frothy waterfalls and getting wet? Rubber rafts hot to the touch from the beating sun? Enjoying a lazy day on a river with friends? As one who's been white water rafting a few times, I can tell you it's all of that and much more!
While I was on the water a lot growing up in Minnesota, there isn't a lot of white water in the Midwest. So when I moved to the West Coast, I gave it a whirl.
My phone rang on a random weekday in May of 2011. The caller was a writer who also happened to co-own a rafting company in Oregon. She was looking for interesting people to interview for a publication, and we hit it off. The conversation quickly morphed from her planned questions to a much more enthusiastic sharing of who we were and about rafting. That conversation lead to her hiring me for a special themed white water rafting trip: beer and food tastings.
They plugged the trip into the existing rafting schedule, offering the unique addition of an end-of-day beer and food tasting. Before dinner each night, I conducted tastings at the end of our day on the river. The trip ended up being a hit with guests and we all had a great time. In fact, the second night everyone was early to the tasting since they'd had so much fun the night before!
Before we got to the tastings, though, we needed to launch. And before we ever got into the boats, our guides delivered an essential safety talk. Rafting can range from mellow to harrowing, and you must be prepared for potential robust physical participation should it get lively.
Make no mistake: the river is in charge. Depending on the level of the water, measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute), it can be slow, reasonable or swift. The river and water have extraordinarily strength and you must respect it at all times. The best thing to do is listen carefully to the guides, practice their drills and follow their instructions without question. Their main concern is for your safety. Don't be scared -- be smart.
We floated the Wild & Scenic section of the Rogue River in Oregon. As one of 8 rivers to be congressionally designated in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, the Rogue is a truly beautiful and well-loved river. These identified sections are designated to "conserve the essential fabric of the West, while offering exceptional opportunities for recreation, solitude, wildlife viewing, exploring history, and scientific research." I'm exceedingly grateful we have our nationally protected lands for all to enjoy, especially in a raft on a hot July day.
While I've witnessed extremely clear water before, it was encouraging to see natural pools and areas of the river where the water was so clear, you could sometimes even see the riverbed many feet down.
At one stopping place, our guides safely tethered the boats to the bank, showed us a swimming hole and then took us up over 10 feet on a rock formation to jump into said swimming hole. I'm not big on heights, but I mustered my gumption and jumped the ledge with an ear-piercing scream. The water was so clear in this little pocket that the guides took your picture underwater once you jumped!
You quickly grow to appreciate the great skills and expertise of your guides. These are smart, well-trained and incredibly hard working people who love being outdoors and providing a unique experience for their guests. They share stories, entertain, cajole, maneuver, point out wildlife and instigate boat-to-boat paddle spray fests -- all in the name of a terrific and safe adventure.
When the guides would moor the boats for the day, we'd all help unload and haul gear to our cabins. Once settled in and refreshed, we gathered at the lodge for the tastings with happy and tired satisfaction of a wonderful day shared on the river.
Thankfully, all's well that's guided well and I'd recommend rafting to everyone. Four trips later, and I'm planning to go again. They are trips remembered fondly forever.
Ginger Johnson can often be found grocery shopping, prepping and cooking wherever she may be. As a professional entertainer, speaker and business owner, she loves to meet new people in the various pursuits of life. Read more via gingerjohnson.com and womenenjoyingbeer.com.