by James Moore
The thrill of movement and not knowing if you’re on the edge of your life, or just having a good time with friends. This is what whitewater rafting is all about.
There are many sports for the outdoor enthusiast out there that are beyond risky. Hot air ballooning has been known to have more than a few deaths every year. Not to mention, rock climbing, safari hunting, and the list goes on. But when it comes to whitewater rafting, although the thrills are sometimes more than a little bit chilled, the actual sport is more challenging than death defying. At least, when you’re in the boat with someone who knows exactly what they’re doing.
Using an inflatable raft to navigate a river doesn’t seem frightening. But with whitewater rafting, you’re speaking about navigating bodies of extremely rough water. This is literally how the leisure sport began – riding rough seas, so to speak, in order to excite and scare passengers.
Whitewater rafting, however, didn’t really begin to grow big in the outdoor sports industry until the 1970s. Until that point, individuals used their muscles by paddling 10-12 foot rafts with simple paddles. Soon the sport began to involve into multi-person rafts, captained by a tour guide in order to give vacationers a real thrill.
Now, whitewater rafting finds itself in the category of ‘extreme sport.’ But it seems that more and more people across the country are choosing this bit of danger to have a really good time. They are also involving themselves in events in order to outrace and outlast other rafting fans.
In case you are one who is definitely interested in becoming a part of this slightly frightening sport, there are things you should definitely know before diving in head-first. The one most important thing to take note of is the International Scale of River Difficulty, which are the six grades of whitewater rafting. Ranging from the easiest to the ones that have the largest potential for serious injury, a great deal of practice must first be done in order to get your feet wet and ensure your safety – as much as possible.
When it comes to Class 6, the rafter will find themselves using serious rapids to enjoy themselves in. These are the waters that are completely unable to be navigated, and the rafter can meet up with everything from huge waves to huge rocks. Severe impacts are known to happen with the substantial drops in the rivers, not to mention the natural habitats that are there for collisions at any time.
Extreme luck and extreme skill are the combination that Class 6 rafters need. Therefore, starting very small and learning the basic techniques are what every lover of the sport must accomplish first.
There are various terms that come along with what the raft will do during the trip. Punching, is when a raft is going at high speeds and is punched by other rafts. This occurs during the events where everyone is vying for bragging rights.
Stopping a raft from flipping over is a technique that all future navigators must learn. High siding is when their raft is caught in the momentum of the river or other rafts in the vicinity, and rafters must be able to climb to the side of the raft that’s raised the highest in the air in order to keep it steady.
Although you would think capsizing would happen a great deal, rafts are actually extremely stable being that their center of mass and gravity is low. In fact, heavy gear as well as passengers must usually be tossed out before a raft can actually capsize.
There are so many more tips, as well as tricks that rafters learn in order to slay their competition. In other words, if becoming a whitewater rafter is a true desire of yours, than this is one sport where a lot of time must be put into studying to make a name for yourself.
The Colorado River will always be one of the most famous when it comes to whitewater rafting in the U.S.. It is still the main stage for those who want to tackle every twist and turn the Grand Canyon offers. And it remains there…just waiting to give you that once-in-a-lifetime thrill that comes from this ultimate outdoor sport.