This update is super delayed, but the weekend after Father’s Day, my wonderful boyfriend and I took my father on a white water rafting trip (along with a bunch of my wonderful boyfriend’s fun coworkers). We went down the Kennebec River in northern Maine (almost Canada) with a company called Northern Outdoors and got the trip 50% off thanks to CBS Local (similar to LivingSocial and Groupon). I really think this is shaping up to be my summer of mini-adventures and I’m quite digging it.
It was just the beginning of the heat wave, so it was a beautiful 80°. At the lodge, before the trip, they reviewed the supplies they offered for rent. They started with a paddle jacket, suggesting most people would rent that (if anything). The chest part was wet suit material while the sleeves were a light and flexible material (similar to real wind-breaker). They showed the wet suit jacket and booties for your feet. They also showed the bottoms of the wetsuit, which I think they called the “farmer john.” They said “unless you had 0% body fat, you won’t need the ‘farmer john.’ Oh and the water is 51°. Thanks for listening.”
It was the 51° degrees part that really resonated with us. We’ve been on this trip before, so we knew that during the rafting, everyone in the boat would get wet. And we knew there were multiple parts of the river you could get out of the boat and float down the river yourself. I hate to be cold, it’s completely miserable and you can’t do much about it. As someone who also enjoys alpine skiing in the winter, I have learned that if you have too much clothing, you can always take it off until you’re more comfortable. It was worth it to us to spend the $10 and get the paddle jackets and the farmer johns.
Very few people made that choice, and there were probably about thirty 20-something-year-old girls in bikinis on the trip who spent the entire day freezing and miserable. Especially because even the air felt cooler on the river.
The day was gorgeous! Everyone in our boat got a chance to sit up front, even me. The last time we went (last fall with T’s family – it was FREEZING!) I had no interest in sitting in the front and I never did. I didn’t really have any interest in sitting in the front this time either, but my dad insisted. He was totally right, you get the best view. And it’s not that the view from the second seat is much different. It’s just that the front person sets the pace, the second+ person needs to get in sync and pay attention to someone else’s rhythm. The front person can spend that extra brain power looking at the river instead of looking at the paddle in front of them.
My wonderful boyfriend, T, told me that this is a pretty unique style of white water rafting and you won’t find it everywhere in the country. For example, one of his coworkers, Jenn spent her honeymoon in Pennsylvania and one of the days they went white water rafting. But they didn’t even have a guide in their boat. They was just one guide with the entire trip. I’m going to guess their river was a little safer. Our guide, Dave (who was in the boat the entire time and was in charge of steering), had to guide us around things like the “kayak keeper”: a set of rocks that created a cycle of spinning water that could literally drag a kayak down below the surface for good. Or he had to avoid “unemployment rock.” Inches before unemployment rock looks like some really sweet white water, but 6 inches past the rapid is a giant bolder, doing a nice job of staying hidden, but completely dry. It’s called unemployment rock because if a guide steers his boat that way… he’ll be on the unemployment line in a hot second. There are lots of things like that to this river, things you might not notice if you didn’t know what you were doing. I can’t imagine doing a river without a guide with me. Plus, the Northern Outdoors staff are all funny and very knowledgable about the area.
We had a super time! And I’m hoping to do a more challenging river this fall.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take any pictures during the actual rapids, but it was super awesome and I would totally recommend this to anyone!