Nantahala Outdoor Center - Ocoee River

Cleveland Travel Blog

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Rockstars on water!

We woke up that morning, and had breakfast and got on the road for our drive into Tennessee. The drive was only about 45 minutes, but we did not want to be late, and then not be able to raft. We got there and register, and we super excited. We sat through the orientation which was telling us how to get your feet and head up and pointed down river if you fall out. We then got suited with our lifejackets, helmets and jackets (optional). I have been rafting once before, in North Carolina, but when we went, we did not HAVE to have a guide in our boat nor did we HAVE to wear helmets. That made me a little nervous, but excited at the same time. This cute guy with a shirt that said "college" on it helped me get my gear tight and I hoped he would be our guide.

We get on the bus to ride to the top of the river and are getting assigned guides. We have a group of 10 so we naturally have to split up, but we unsure how we were going to. There were 3 couples, and 4 of us singles, me being the only single girl. The guys, of course, wanted to split up the sexes, but the girls protested, and 2 couples went in one raft and the rest of us in another. I was in a raft with my best friend Stacie, her fiance Ryan, his friend Mikey, Billy and Cole. I thought we have a great raft, 4 boys, 2 girls and a guide. We were told our guide would be Eric, EZ-E, we would know him because he has the big hair and glasses.

As soon as the bus stopped, the guides got off to unload the rafts from the top and we were to wait until they were all unloaded.

Our raft down the Ocoee River
This was our chance to scope out our guide. We immediately saw this tall, skinny, "geeky" looking guy and were groaning, thinking we were going to die. "This kid won't be able to save us if something happens, he is smaller than me!" is what I was thinking and the others were also saying.

We are finally allowed to debus and we go to our instructor. He get us in the first raft and we start learning the lingo. We practice paddling forward, backwards, doing right and left spins, and how to row together. He also tells us about surfing, where we all put our paddles up and just ride the wave. We have a few minutes to just wait for the rest of the rafts to get in the water and practice and he asks our names. I ask about him, he has 3 yrs of experience on this river, but today was his first day back this summer, first trip actually, so.

How beautiful is Tennessee
...he was a little rusty. He is an engineering major at VT, and my big mouth asks if he knew anyone? no. did you get to miss any finals? who wouldnt want to know these things right??!?!? he had already finished all but one so he took them all. I was just curious. Not trying to be rude =)

We get our boat in the water and start down the river. My stomach is in knots, but I am sooooo excited. It was 5 yrs ago the last time I did this and that river was a class 2 with one 3. This is a 3/4 river which is why we are required to have a guide and helmets =) We are the first boat down the first rapid, but he tells us we will be stopping after and being rescue for the rest in case anyone falls out, he will be the rope that pulls them to safety. No one fell out and we were on our way to join the group.

Our frontmen in the zone to sync!
As we are watching the boat in front of us, I notice it is "College" boys raft, the cute boy that helped me earlier that I had said I wanted to be our guide. Then I notice, he only has 2 passengers in his raft. 4 fell out! We ended up getting one and returning him to his raft, but I was happy he wasn't our guide.

We are paddling along and having a great time. We celebrate after we pass a rapid successfully with wooo's and yeahs! We are a loud boat, but we are having a great time! We have mastered quite a few rapids at this point and are getting ready to go down another when EZ-E tells us we are going to go surfing (paddles up, inside the boat). We get into position and head down the rapid, but something goes terribly wrong, and all the sudden the boat is tipping over, ON TOP OF ME! I was sitting in the right back and it is coming from the left.

PLUS, we are not heading up river, so I have 2 people who are going to be floating over top of me....I am struggling to get above water, but have slammed my knee and shin on the rocks below and have tried several times to get my head above water, but I cannot breathe! I got stuck in the rapid and kept getting pulled under. I finally put my hand down and found a rock to push off of, and started to find air. I was able to get above water when the raft carrying our friends was going down the rapid and stuck out a paddle to save me. I was pulled into their raft and was gasping for air. It was crazy the feeling I had. I thought I was going to drown, had the taste of blood in my mouth and was just shaken up. I was not bleeding where anyone could see, I must have just gotten his in the mouth and maybe bit my tongue or something.
Our instructor, EZ-E..Eric!
I rid with my saviours for a few more rapids and then was able to meet up with my boat. My best friend also was picked up by another raft, but was back in well before I was, and the guys were able to get back up in the boat on their own immediately after. I was the one that had the worst experience!

I didn't let a little tip over ruin my time though. When I was back in my raft, I found out my paddle never made it back so my best friend and I shared the rest of the ride. Even though I went through that experience I was having sooo much fun. We kept saying, at least all of us went in, including our guide! It was truely a bonding experience for our raft! By the end of the river, we were asking the guide when the next trip was because we wanted to do it again, NOW! I would have, but the other boat didn't seem to have as much fun as we did and it would have been another few hours before they would be able to leave.

They didn't want to wait so we didn't sign up again.

It took 3 weeks forthe bruise and knot on my shin to go away, and I pulled a muscle in my neck and basically couldn't do anything for the week after but it was so worth the trip. I had so much fun and would definitely go again if I had the chance. I found a shirt in the giftshop when we returned that applied to me, DUDE WHERE'S MY PADDLE? I wear it and remember my time and trip.

 

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Rockstars on water!
Rockstars on water!
Our raft down the Ocoee River
Our raft down the Ocoee River
How beautiful is Tennessee
How beautiful is Tennessee
Our frontmen in the zone to sync!
Our frontmen in the zone to sync!
Our instructor, EZ-E..Eric!
Our instructor, EZ-E..Eric!
The boys!
The boys!
Im paddling
I'm paddling
My view from the raft that saved m…
My view from the raft that saved …
beautiful scenery
beautiful scenery
paddle!
paddle!
EZ-E, me and Cole
EZ-E, me and Cole
Ryan, ahhh
Ryan, ahhh
this was such a beautiful day!
this was such a beautiful day!
Bily,Stacie, EZ-E and Me
Bily,Stacie, EZ-E and Me
Can we woo yet?
Can we woo yet?
We had so much fun, lets go again…
We had so much fun, let's go agai…
Soaked but super happy!
Soaked but super happy!
The best rafting group of the summ…
The best rafting group of the sum…
Our whole crew
Our whole crew
77 km (48 miles) traveled
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photo by: X_Drive