River Touring: Whitewater Rafting

For our third week of skills, we learned how to guide a whitewater raft down Class I rapids.  This was week one of two weeks of “river touring” instruction.

Day 1 of River Touring started off sunny and chilly with all of us bundled up in full wetsuits and the necessary safety gear ready to be trained by instructors Betty, Chris, and Tom.  On the Middle Channel of the Ottawa River, we learned river signals, how to guide a raft of 4-5 paddlers down Class I rapids as well as on flatwater, and a little about blue herons as we floated past a heronry on river right.  Folks who wanted to bodysurfed the Butterfly rapid before hopping back in our rafts and heading for the take-out spot.  After dinner, we continued the river rescue lessons from the week before with information on hydrodynamics which would come in handy on Day 2.

Despite the second morning starting off quite a bit warmer, we cooled off quickly with raft flipping and recovery exercises offshore from the Wilderness Tours put-in point.  We honed our guiding skills attempting to navigate Sattler’s Hole, Phil’s Hole, and Screaming Beaver and saw the employment of the raft recovery skills from earlier in the morning.  (We rescued A LOT of flipped rafts.)  Lunchtime brought the most spectacular sight of the two days: two bald eagles flying overhead and perching atop evergreens. The eagles have only just returned to the Ottawa Valley no more than two or three years ago after a 30+ year absence.  With only an hour to go before take-out time, we attempted surfing (our rafts) next to Butterfly and then paddled hard to make it back in time for the bus.

I will admit, whitewater was not my favorite.  After two weeks in the rapids, I was relieved to be done at the end of day two.  I had an inkling that sea kayaking would be more up my alley.

Up for discussion: I like whitewater A LOT more since I wrote this post. Have you learned to love an outdoor activity?

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