Confessions of a whitewater virgin...
I'm embarrassed to say this, especially because the opportunity to do so is practically in my backyard, but until this past Saturday, I had never been whitewater rafting. Always wanted to ... always had an excuse not to. But that was all about to change!
Whitewater, here I come!
This spring when Bob from Adirondac Rafting Company invited me to get on the Hudson, I couldn't turn him down! No more excuses for this girl; she was hitting the rapids ...
Now that I got my feet wet, I have to say that this simply has to be one of the best ways to experience the Adirondacks! From breathtakingly beautiful scenery to adrenaline pumping fun, you will enjoy it all along the 17-mile ride down through the Hudson River Gorge. Trust me, if you have never been whitewater rafting before (or you have been whitewater rafting, just not in the Adirondacks) this is something you must add to your bucket list.
10 reasons to whitewater raft in the Adirondacks
Anytime I get the chance to be outside exploring a new trail or waterway, I am usually having a pretty good time. But, I have to say that this trip was an absolute blast! In the moment, I realized I was having a great time, but was pretty focused on the activity at hand. In order to capture the experience, I was taking photos and video throughout the entirety of our rafting trip. As a result I came home with a whole lot of proof of the fun we had. Seriously, I don't think I have ever seen more candid photos of people with ear to ear grins on their faces (teeth and all). No wonder my face still hurts. A full day of smiling and laughing takes a toll. Apparently my face was a little out of shape!
2. The exercise
Getting bored with the same old workout routine? Trust me, there is nothing boring about this workout. From legs and arms to core muscles, whitewater rafting proves to be a great workout in one of the most refreshing environments you can find. Even when you are not paddling, just trying to keep yourself balanced on the raft is a nice abdominal and leg workout. The best part, though, is that there is no lingering stale air in this "gym." Instead it's replaced with fresh mountain air and the occasional (and sometimes frequent) blast of Adirondack river water to cool you down.
3. The scenery
Talk about exploring beautiful backcountry wilderness from a unique perspective! As you travel down the Indian River then through the Hudson River Gorge you are, at times, miles from the closest roadway. Along the trip you will enjoy views of the beautiful trees and vegetation which line the river banks, streams and small waterfalls that flow into the river along the way, mountain peaks, glorious cliffs, wildlife, and more. And let's not to forget that Indian Lake area is known for the occasional moose sighting. This 17-mile trip is seriously one of the most beautiful scenic tours I've ever taken.
4. Mind cleansing
It's hard to remain focused on your daily stresses when you are busy tackling the eddies and hydraulics caused by class III and IV (and in the spring sometimes V) rapids. From experiencing the rush of the moment to listening for commands from your rafting guide, let the river free your mind of stress and tension. And this leads to the next big perk ...
5. The chance to truly unplug
Step away from the device! Really, you have to back away from your device and leave it home or lock it in your car. Don't think I'm serious? Well consider this: you have two choices. Choice 1: leave it behind for a half-day or choice 2: lose it at the bottom of the river.
The best part is you don't have to hear the annoying vibration sound or funky ring tones. You will actually engage with people and have them look you in the eye when you speak as opposed to down at their hand. It might sound like a shocking concept, but it is as refreshing as the river you are on. And trust me, you won't miss your phone for a second!
6. The history
There is something inherently thrilling about navigating rapids. Did you know whitewater rafting can be traced back to 1811? This was the year of the first recorded trip on the Snake River, which flows through Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The first commercial rafting companies didn’t emerge until the 1960s and 70s, though. If you come to the Adirondacks to raft, you’ll be joining a long history of rafting thrill-seekers and explorers. Don’t worry - whitewater rafting has come a long way since 1811: raft designs have been perfected and your guide will outfit your crew with helmets and life preservers and other necessary equipment (even lunch but more on that later!).
7. Meeting new friends
With your phone out of hand and a raft full of other adventure seekers like you, you are bound to meet new people and make new friends. Take a chance and strike up a conversation with your fellow rafters. I know I'm glad I did.
8. Adrenaline rush
When was the last time you had good punch of epinephrine? Did you know that the benefits from an adrenaline rush are far beyond that great feeling you get? From helping you breathe better to helping ward off glaucoma, that adrenaline rush you get whitewater rafting is doing more for your health than you even realize.
9. Bonding time
Talk about great bonding time. Pack up the family (kids 8 and up for summer rafting), your friends, even your colleagues, and enjoy a day on this amazing river together. With the phones and tablets far from sight, you will be having fun while working together as a team to tackle the river. Really, can you think of a better environment for a group activity? I was lucky to be able to spend the day with my father and niece. It doesn't matter how old you are, or how many kids you have of your own, any chance to enjoy a father-daughter day is a great day!
10. Create amazing memories
OK, now for the big one. Factor together reason 1 - 9 and the result is some fantastic memories that will last a lifetime. You will remember the views, the laughter, the fun. But most of all you will remember being with those who traveled with you. Before you leave Adirondac Rafting Company, don't forget to check out the awesome candid photos that were captured by Melody Thomas Photography for you along the way. You can view the photos at the rafting shop or on their website. Who knows, you might finally find the perfect photo for this year's holiday greeting card. Odds are, you are going to finally end up with that amazing photo of everyone smiling.
5 things you'll want to know before you go
Think you're ready to hit this water for yourself? Here are five things you should know:
1. What to wear
If you are rafting during the summer, wear swim gear, or quick dry shorts and shirt are your best options. This will need to be accompanied by a pair of water shoes, snug fitting sandals, or old sneakers. In the spring and fall when the water (and air) are cold, you will want the full wetsuit. Adirondac Rafting Co. offered full wetsuit rentals at a very affordable rate. Under the wetsuit you will want some quick dry long underwear (heat gear is best if you have it). Final tip: Don't forget to pack a spare change of clothes for after your trip and a plastic grocery bag to toss your wet clothes in.
2. Whitewater rafting is not only a summer activity
Many people often associate rafting as just a summer sport, others simply only think of high-water spring rapids as the only time to go rafting. In fact, you can whitewater raft in the Adirondacks from mid-April straight through the summer and into fall. In the spring, when the water is high, the rapids are much more intense and as a result it is not recommended for children under 16. But in the warmer months, this family-friendly rafting experience is open to those 8 and up.
3. Stay close
With great variety of other cool things you will want to do in the area, such as hiking to the majestic OK Slip Falls or visiting the Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, you will want to stick around and make a weekend (or longer) of it. Check out some of the lodging and camping options available in the area.
4. You won't be fighting over lunch
I don't know about you, but nothing drives me crazier than trying to get a group of people to try to decide on where and what to eat. Either no one wants to make a decision, or everyone has a different idea of what they want. Here's is the beauty of this trip, not only is your lunch packed up for you in advance, but the guides pick a beautiful spot along the river to stop and enjoy it. Once you are in the wilderness and away from too many options, everyone is happy to see the tasty lunch being served and the whole decision crisis is averted.
5. No experience necessary
Each raft at Adirondac Rafting Company was led by a licensed and experienced rafting guide. With them on hand to help lead the way, no prior rafting experience is necessary. Instruction will be provided before boarding the raft and throughout your rafting trip.
Make sure you board the bus with an empty bladder, it will be awhile before you see the nearest bathroom. Yes, you can sneak off to nature's restroom when you break for lunch, but that's awhile away.
Plan Your Adventure
Don't make the same mistake I had for many years and miss the opportunity to raft down the wild and beautiful Adirondack Hudson River. Gather your rafting party, book a room or campsite, then a rafting trip and come experience some of the best the Adirondacks has to offer! Happy Rafting!