Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rafting the South Fork of the Payette

For a mere $105, you can book a full day raft trip on the South Fork of the Payette River with Cascade Raft and Kayak. This is a LOT of fun! I've wanted to do the full day trip for several years but never made time. This year I did, and it was well worth it.

I set a record I think by being bounced out of the raft roughly four seconds after getting into it. We hit a rock. The guide wasn't all the way in yet and as we were the first raft, no other rafts were in the water, nor was the safety kayaker. I have a nice bruise to prove we hit a rock. It bounced me like popcorn into the VERY cold water. I tried to not panic, remember the instructions for what to do, and await rescue. However, I heard some dismaying sounds from the raft and it was not moving towards me. I kept ahold of my paddle, tried to get feet first floating downriver, and hoped there was no rapid around the bend. Eventually someone was able to get close enough I could grab a paddle, and thankfully get pulled back in. Nice and chilly. This did not in any way dampen my spirits for the raft trip, however.

I was impressed by the 40' waterfall you have to carry the raft around - including clamboring around on rocks and cliffs in Tevas. The lunch was nice and amazingly attractively arranged given that four young male guides laid it out. (One of the fruit trays was so pretty it was, to quote my companion, "downright gay." Very cute.) Bring a power bar as lunch is a long time coming and you're going to work your ass off in the meantime.

For me, the highlight was by far a baby black bear we saw on a mountainside. When he heard us yelling to one of the other rafts, he ran up the mountainside. I'm glad he's learned already to avoid humans - a very good idea and a policy I hope he follows for a long life. It was very cool to see him in the wild and I wish I'd been able to get a picture.

There were lots of rapids and a fun spinny one called Trash Can that you can do over and over - the trick is to lie back and in the center to not flip out, pictured above. We had a great guide (Dustin, my favorite for safety reasons). Things went fast after lunch, and we ended up done around 3pm. Thus, I think they should start it a bit later so it's warmer - it's cool in the early morning.

My friends and I all commented we were SORE after this trip. We must be getting old. It's a workout though - lots of paddling and balancing and bouncing and general whitewater fun. This was a GREAT trip and I would definitely love to do it again. Highly recommended.

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