I'm not old. I'm experienced. Or mature. Or something that sounds dignified while also portrays me as a fun-loving spirit. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
However, as I took an early-morning ride with my coworkers last fall, I can readily admit to feeling my age. As they piled into the car chattering excitedly and ready for the day's adventure, all I could think was, "Damn, I need more coffee. Now." And, "How the heck are they this cheerful, they're more animated than my overly-talkative kid. It's morning. It's early. Stop talking. Where's my coffee?"**
It had been over 20 years since I last took this trip. Twenty years. The bulk of my cohorts were barely in middle school at that time. There were not GoPros and cell phones to document our adventure - we pooled our money and brought a few state-of-the-art waterproof disposable cameras with us. Yeah, think about that for a minute.
I had visions of my younger self, paddling like mad on an early April day, ice chunks floating in the river next to us as snow showers came and went. The river was fast, super-fast, the snow melt from the mountains making for really high waters. I was younger, stronger, and dressed warmer, and that trip has always stayed in my mind as one of the fastest, craziest, coolest (literally) things I have done.
Whitewater rafting. What the heck had I voluntarily gotten myself into - again? What was I thinking!?
Well, to be exact, this is what I was thinking: Maybe I was in over my head. Then again, what's life without adventure. But I'm a responsible mom now. But why live in the beautiful Adirondacks if you're not willing to push your boundaries every once in a while? But, but, ahhhhh...
Time to suck up my apprehension and seize the day (or paddle as the case may be) — a quick 3 mugs of coffee and two-hour drive later I was prepped to begin this truly Adirondack experience.
Whitewater rafting on the mighty Hudson River
On this particular day we are heading out with Adirondac Rafting Company (ARC), and as luck would have it, owner Bob Rafferty - one of the original pioneers of rafting the Hudson - is our guide. We are signed up to run the 17-mile Hudson River Gorge and it's a gorgeous late-summer day for it!
Quick side note: If you are a downstater like me, you may have spent a good deal of your life associating the Hudson River with NYC. It came as a little bit of a shock to me the first time I floated down it and realized this beautiful, wild river is the same one I grew up with 3+ hours south of the Adirondacks. Here it is smaller, more intimate, there are no motor boats and signs of civilization are few and far between. I would never have guessed the source of the Hudson is actually Lake Tear of the Clouds found on Mt. Marcy, New York State's highest peak.
They say a picture says a thousand words, and in this case, I think they will describe the experience and fun vibe of the day better than I ever could! So, here you go...
We arrive at the ARC base in Indian Lake, check in at their headquarters, and quickly change into our swimwear. Next we are fitted for life vests and helmets, and matched with correctly sized paddles. We're soon suited up with gear and ready to get this experience under way!I dare say the guides enjoy their jobs here!
Of course, it's not all fun and games. There's some lifting involved - we'll consider it a morning stretch. Have to warm up those muscles for the upcoming hours of paddling!
I think one of the best things about this adventure is the fact that it appeals to so, so, many different types of people. In addition to our clan, there were a variety of folks ranging from a group of girls celebrating a reunion weekend to a multi-generational family from Long Island.
Side note: Yes, kids can take this trip. Yes, Oliver wanted to join me. But, before you make me feel guilty for not bringing him along, the minimum age is 8 in the lower water months, and ARC suggests 16+ in April / 14+ in May. So, although I drag him along most places, at 6-years-old he was just a tad too young for this trip — besides, sometimes you just need to have an adventure sans child, right!?
After the rafts are loaded, it's time to get to know the guides and get the low-down on what to expect for the day.
Let the adventure begin
Once the basics are over, it's time to load into the busses and head to the launching point. The ride is jovial, and everyone is psyched for a beautiful four-ish hours on the water. We park, unload, and start hauling the rafts to the water. It's the last time our feet will hit dry land until we stop for lunch.
Last chance to bail before literally getting cold feet!
It's a beautiful day and all of the local companies seem to have full rafts. Not that it matters, this is a big river, and once we get started we feel like we're the only ones out on it.
Making a splash
You can tell this first pic is the beginning of our trip - because we're dry. And that will soon change!
Let's get this party started...
Sometimes the wave hits you. Sometimes you hit the wave.
So, there are a few fun stops along the way. One of them includes a stop at this rock - for those willing to climb up, jumping off is the fun way down.
Here's where I hit a dilemma. I love the water. I have no problem with being up high. I am terrified of taking the step off - what do I do?? Well, people are watching, people are cheering, so... I suck it up and jump. And, it's AWESOME!
Now it's time to regroup and fuel up. ARC provides a hearty river lunch consisting of sandwiches, fruit, and cookies, and after the morning's action I can say that a simple turkey sandwich never tasted so good. We have a few minutes to explore, and after a super short hike up a trail we find yet another way to get wet!
Obviously, it was a warm day. :) We had fun talking with the folks from the other rafts. It really was an eclectic group.
Row row row your raft
We are soon back in our rafts and ready to move along - we are happily anticipating the rapids to come. There are also a few chances for us to take a leisurely swim, a few more jumping experiences, and a few fun surprises.
Bob asked us if we wanted to go surfing. I had no idea what he meant. I soon learned it seemingly meant submerging the exact part of the raft where I was seated into a wave - for an extended portion of time - and I laughed. A lot.
Honestly, I am so glad I pushed my boundaries and decided to join my coworkers for this adventure. If you get the chance - do it. Plan to stay close and spend a few days exploring the heart of the Adirondacks — Bob pointed out some beautiful hiking trails that led to scenic overlooks and the rivers edge. Whether you're in your 20s or 40s, it's definitely an Adirondack experience to remember. I would absolutely go again - invite me along if you don't want to be oldest one in your raft!
Make sure to check out the video at the top of the page to see a bit more of the fun our team had! Start planning your whitewater vacation now. For those of you looking for a faster ride head out this month; for a lazier — but still awesome — trip plan a summer getaway. Either way one thing is certain, you will get wet!
*When using the term wimps, I am undeniably referring to myself as a wimp. I am relating my experience as a wimp on a whitewater rafting trip. I would like to clarify that in no way am I referring to you. I am sure you are not a wimp. I also do not think only wimps like to whitewater raft. Or that the Hudson River is either wimpy or only good rafting if you're a wimp. And, actually, after this trip, I do not think I am that much of a wimp either - you can't hear me screaming in the video, right?
**All inner dialogue edited to be reader-friendly. I may have been a bit more candid in my thoughts. And by a bit more, I mean NSFW more.
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