Nantahala Outdoor Center - Ocoee River
Cleveland Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.