While the picture above was taken from Pixabay, it's actually a very good representation of the scariest moment on our white water rafting trip.
It was a mid-July hot summer and we decided to try something new and exciting - a white water rafting trip. The particular river we chose was the Chattooga River which flows in the Blue Ridge Mountains area of both North & South Carolina. This was actually the river that the famous 1972 movie "Deliverance" starring Burt Reynolds was filmed. At one point our guide said "If you hear banjos, paddle faster!"
This trip was a two-day river run - we camped overnight right on the river - not in a campground either - just a rough site set up by the outfitters along the river bank. They hauled our tents and sleeping bags and set up the camp which we rafted to as a half-way point. It was a really fun experience - they cooked us fresh trout and T-bone steaks and had pitchers of margaritas waiting when we got there.
My husband is a big city Chicago guy and had NEVER done anything like this before. He was a little appalled at the lack of restrooms and lights, having envisioned a regular campground. But the huge campfire and the margaritas went a long way toward making him feel better, lol. We were a small group - just us and a husband & wife with their two teenage sons, and two lawyers from the big city, plus the guides. We got on famously except for one of the 2 lawyers obviously wanted to be golfing rather than camping and he was pretty much a dick about it. Drinking too much and making disparaging comments. This is important to the story only because of what came the next day during our biggest YOLO moment.
The Chattooga River has some pretty exciting rapids. The first day of the trip was pretty mild and it allowed us to get our feet wet (pun intended) in the mechanics of rafting. The main instruction was LISTEN TO GUIDE AND DO WHAT HE SAID! Life jackets and helmets were required and if you fell out of the raft you were instructed to lie on your back, keep your feet UP, and float down river until you could be picked up. This to avoid getting your legs broken on rocks and boulder if you let them hang down. So that's a pretty big adrenlin boost right there, not really knowing how you were going to be able to remain INSIDE the raft during some of those rapids.
Day two was Section Three and Section Four of the rapids. The final rapid in Section 3 is Bull Sluice. Section 4 includes Class II-V rapids, including the famous Five Falls (five class III-V rapids in roughly a 1/4 mile stretch). It was on this section that we had our biggest spill. The aforementioned grumpy lawyer continued his bad attitude and was not following instructions - such as the guide shouting "Everyone paddle hard on the left!" to get us around a big rock or get us out of a whirlpool.
At the top of this particular waterfall, which looked pretty much like the picture above, we were supposed to be going to the side instead of right over the top. The front of the raft hit nose-first at the bottom of that drop and both lawyers went over the side. My husband and I were in the middle section and we were thrown to the front of the raft, but not over the side. The guide ended up on top of us in the front, but we all remained inside at least.
The two lawyers did end up downstream and relatively unharmed, but it sure didn't improve the grouchy one's mood. He never said a word the rest of the trip. But that's okay because we at least didn't have to listen to him complain!
We actually had a blast on this trip and have been twice more since this original first trip. It's a great way to the ol' heart pumping and get out of your comfort zone!