Monday, September 3, 2012

I Do All My Own Stunts

The area surrounding our cabin had no shortage of outdoor fun, so we spent two days of our trip chasing an adrenaline rush, first on a zipline canopy tour and then by whitewater rafting.

Our zipline adventure began with a short drive to Wildwater Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours. 

After parking the car we followed the trail to what appeared to be a cross between an over-sized screened in porch and a tree house to check in.  We were handed waivers to fill out - and some of the wording was absolutely hilarious. The part circled in yellow below is what really made me laugh.  I had to agree that there were 'emotional risks' involved in ziplining including "unwelcome or inadvertent touching, simple hurt feelings to panic and psychological trauma (such as fear of heights).  I realize that they need to put these things in the waiver to protect themselves, but I thought it was funny that I had to agree that I couldn't sue them if they hurt my feelings!

 Anyway, as we were filling out our waivers and signing our lives away, the rest of the participants were filing in and one of the staff members was providing musical accompaniment - on a banjo!  Soon enough we met our Zipping Rangers (Trevor and Charlie Bo), were all fitted with harnesses, helmets and gloves and then led to a practice zipline, instructed on how to zip, how to stop and what not to do (namely touching the two back up safety lines that came off the back of our harnesses).  After that, it was practice zip time!  We started by zipping half way down the line (which was about 3 feet off the ground), stopping ourselves, and backing up hand-over-hand to the start.  Next was a full zip.  I could already tell from the practice zip that this was going to be a lot of fun!

All harnessed up and ready to fly!
 Our little group hiked up a short trail to our first zip platform and it was time to go!  The first four lines were tandem lines, so Mr. R&R were able to fly through the canopy side by side - of course he was faster!

Soaring through the treetops was incredible and the views from the platforms were incredible! 

And the bridges between some of the platforms were a lot of fun too.  There were narrow ones, bouncy ones, and some with intentionally missing planks!  I think the long, bouncy one was my favorite!

We had a blast flying through the forest, hanging out high in the trees, bounding across bridges, and learning about the plants surrounding us from our guides.

Finally it was time to take our final, and longest flight of the day. It was great!

If you ever have the opportunity to go ziplining, take it!

The next day we were off to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for a half day of whitewater rafting.  Looking at the Nantahala River at 9:00am, it didn't look like much of anything - in fact, I wondered if the water was even deep enough to need a raft!
Kayaking course at 9am

Looking up-river at 9am
It turns out that the Nantahala is a dam controlled river and water is released everyday from 9am to 5pm, and it takes approximately 90 minutes for the water to make it from the dam to the NOC campus - and the water becomes much more exciting!

Kayaking Course at Noon

Looking up-river at Noon

We met our guides, donned splash jackets and PFD's, and were herded into a covered area where we were shown how to sit properly on the edges of the raft, basic paddle strokes, and watched a brief video about what to do if someone fell out of the raft.  Then it was live demo time! One of the guides called Mr. R&R up to demonstrate the whitewater swimmer's position, as well as how to pull someone out of the water. 

After the demo, we were issued our paddles, loaded onto a bus, divided into rafts, and driven to the put-in point 8 miles away.  Most of the rafts contained 6-8 people plus a guide, but Mr. R&R and I only had one other couple in our raft (John & Terri from Charlotte), and our guide was the same guide that had called upon Mr. R&R to demonstrate the whitewater swimmer's position!  We pushed off from the shore and took up a position behind the two other rafts on our trip.  It turns out that the reason we were behind everyone else is that our guide was the head guide and we were the 'medical' raft if something went wrong!

Almost immediately we came up on our first rapid, Patton's Run (Class II+).  We paddled hard, got splashed a bunch, and everyone came through it smiling and laughing!  As we paddled on, our guide, Marion, told us about the area, pointed out some assorted flora and fauna, and was packed with fantastic and sarcastic stories - including one about intentionally flipping a raft filled with over-confident firefighters!  She also told us that sometimes, after really heavy rains, that the dam releases water all night instead of shutting off at 5pm - and that's when the guides really have some fun in their off hours.  Apparently a group of them will take a raft out and run the river at midnight in total darkness!  How cool is that?

Just over half way through the trip we came up to a rapid called The Quarry (Class II).  The water was churning and foamy, and as we went through it, Mr. R&R was tossed from the raft!  Everyone in our raft reacted exactly like they were supposed to.  Mr. R&R got himself into the whitewater swimmers position, while Marion and Terri passed their paddles of to John and I.  In no time at all, Marion was hauling Mr. R&R out of the 55 degree water and back into the raft while telling him that his position on the raft wasn't called 'The Adventure Seat' for nothing!  Once everyone was settled back into the raft, we continued along the river through more Class II rapids, dropping over ledges, intentionally spinning the raft through others, and even attempting to "surf" one of them! 

Finally we approached our last rapid of the day: Nantahala Falls (Class III).  The water was wild and wavy as we paddled through it, splashing us from all sides and providing one hell of a ride!

I'd never been whitewater rafting prior to this trip, but Mr. R&R and I agreed that it was one of the most fun (and ab-destroying) things we've ever done! On our next trip we want to find a river with Class III and IV rapids, because if a little adrenaline is good, then more is better (unless you hear banjo music)!


Elizabeth said...

You are so adventurous, I'm jealous! Looks like a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

I know there's lots of rafting and kayaking in the 'dacks. I also know kayaking is very popular here on the river, I haven't tried it...I like a lil bigger boat.
The picture of the long bouncy bridge gave me a panic attack!!

April said...

Looks like fun! 18 days to my ziplining experience...starting to think that the zip will be easier than the bridges...I'm guessing that the outfitter took the pics on the water...very cool!

Mary said...

'Twas fabulous!

Mary said...

I'm seriously considering a kayak next spring. The bouncy bridge was great - and pretty stable.

Mary said...

I can't wait to see what you think of ziplining. Honestly, the bridges aren't bad - you can hang onto the sides for added balance.

As far as the rafting photos go, I sure as heck didn't take 'em! LOL!

Delyth Edwards said...

Oh I would love to try ziplining, it looks like so much fun! So does the rafting! You should definitely come here for a holiday, lots of things for you to do here!

Mary said...

The rafting was, by far, my favorite part of the trip. I think you'd like it a lot!

Megan said...

I really REALLY want to go white water rafting! We go kayaking all the time, if I had the place to store one, I would have bought my own a long time ago!

Did a mini zip line in Vegas. Totally want to do a long one like that! I totally feel jipped on vegas now! lololol Must find something like that!

Mary said...

Two Words: ROAD. TRIP.