White water rafting has become so popular with the general public that you may be considering taking a trip with a professional company (https://mariahrafting.com/) or with your family or friends.
However, you are afraid. You think going fast down the river is scary, you can’t swim, you have no idea what to wear, or which is the right river for you. Learn white water rafting with Mariah Wilderness Expeditions.
Let’s talk about what a white water river is all about. What makes a calm river become a White Water River, and what causes some rivers & rapids to become more challenging? The cause depends on the dynamics of the river.
The Dynamics of a river is described simply in the article below. However, don’t think that the explanations describe the river you may be going on. Each river contains a bit of each of the dynamics described.
Here are some of the features in a river which contribute to the dynamics of the river:
Current in a river is described as the flow of water influenced by gravity as it goes downhill. The current in a Class II rapid flows rather slowly, and as it picks up speed the Classification of the rapids can increase. Class III is still beginner but with a quicker pace. A Class IV rapid is technical and challenging, such as what you find on the Middle Fork of the American River. A Class V rapid is real gnarly; there is one Class V rapid on the Middle Fork of the American River (https://mariahrafting.com/middle-fork-american-river). Class VI is so fast it is unrunnable..
Eddies in a river occur just downstream from an obstacle. For instance, all of sudden a big rock appears in the middle of the current you are rafting on. The current is forced to continue its movement downstream by dividing and flowing downstream on either side of the rock. The area of water immediately below the rock does not have flowing water because the rock has diverted the downstream flow. This can be a very safe place to paddle into because there will be no downstream current to take your boat down the river. Each eddy on a river has it’s own unique features, thus, not all eddies are big or strong.
Obstacles such as rocks, gradients, bending curves, branches or trees in the river, and the depth of the river, each interfere with the downstream flow of the current, and have an impact on how challenging that particular rapid is.
When you combine these dynamics into one of thousands of combinations, you get the personality of not just the river, but of the individual rapids. It is fun to observe the changes. And, as you learn to “read the water” you begin to feel more comfortable. Of course, if you go with a professional guide you can be assured that he/she will be an expert at reading the water, and will know just how to place the boat to have the safest and most fun ride through the rapid.
For instance, a Class II river, considered to be easy whitewater, wil have mostly rapids with a slow current overall and very few obstacles, but may have some speed in different places.
When we first started rafting in the early 70’s, we compared the current, eddies, obstacles like rocks, to our lives. The currents in our lives and where they took us, how the eddies slowed us down, how obstacles provided challenges, and, how well we “read the river” contributed to how safely we ran the river. Same in our daily lives: how well we paid attention and noticed clear paths as well as obstacles contributed to the decisions we made in going forward, step by step.
Whitewater rafting also helps us connect with nature. Sometimes, a whitewater rafting trip is the only way to see a part of the country we couldn’t see otherwise. Rivers flow through canyons and most canyons are inaccessible by road, and even by foot.
Consider the flora and fauna you may see which you wouldn’t see otherwise. You may see otter building a dam, adult birds teaching their new offspring how to swim and fly, deer drinking from the river’s edge. In the spring, you may see adult birds nursing their young.
And, the sounds of nature can be awesome. In the cities you never hear the sound of rushing water, wind blowing through the trees, birds waking up at 5am, geckos scurrying across rocks and paths. Oh, and don’t forget the snakes, 99% of which are totally harmless, and are more afraid of you than you are of them.
So, start your whitewater experience on a river with a milder combination of river dynamics such as on the South Fork American River (https://mariahrafting.com/south-fork-american-river). Build your confidence, learn to “read the river”, and enjoy yourself. After all, everyone is rafting now!