Saturday morning I woke bright and early and packed a lunch for me and my brother and headed to the church building. Justin and I got to the building right about the same time (close to 6:40 a.m.) and we soon left with a group from the young professionals and college aged classes for a white water rafting trip. There were 22 of us in total who went on the trip and it was a fun day.
We took one of the church buses up to Cleveland, Tennessee for our trip. It was the first time I have been on a church bus in many, many years and it felt kind of weird. The ride up there passed by quickly. Both Justin and I slept most of the ride up so the two and a half-three hour ride didn't seem like it took as long as it did.
When we arrived, we ate our packed lunches and I must say that Justin and I had a far superior lunch to others. I had brought an extra sandwich and offered it to some people who didn't bring a lunch, but no one wanted it. Their loss. Justin and I had roast beef sandwiches, chips, watermelon and mini Gigi's cupcakes for our lunch, all of which was rather yummy.
Soon after eating we were gathering life vests, helmets and oars and receiving the mandatory instruction on how to paddle the river. We then loaded the bus and were on our way to the top of the river; well, the top of the lower half of the river anyway which was the half that we rafted. The upper half, which was used in the 1996 Olympics, isn't open as often as the lower half. I've only done the upper half once but have rafted the lower half too many times to count.
We arrived at the top of the river and waited for the guides to unload the rafts and not long after we were in the water and headed down the river. Thanks to all the rain we have been experiencing in this part of the world, the water was higher than I have ever seen it. Even the guide commented that the water was higher than it had been on his trip earlier that morning and in many places rocks were covered under four feet more water than they normally are. Since the water was high, the rapids were churning like crazy which made for a super fun day on the water.
Most of the boats in our group went through the first rapid before we did and right as we were about to hit the trickiest part, two guys from the boat in front of us were tossed out. In talking with them afterwards, it appears that they were both held under the current for a few seconds (probably felt like minutes to them). Thankfully they were both okay and pulled back to safety. A lot of oars went flying through that first rapid as well. I don't know if a lot of people weren't expecting the rapids to be that rough or what was going on but bodies, shoes, and oars were being tossed to and fro. Thankfully no one in our raft got tossed. We all managed to stay inside the whole time.
Justin and I were in the front of the boat, meaning that the majority of the rowing came from us. Justin never remembered to watch me so that we could row simultaneously so I just watched him and made sure my strokes matched his. Behind us were our friends Hayley and Amanda and on the back row was Doug and his wife Jessica. Our guide, of course, was on the very back of the boat. It was a good group and we all enjoyed the time together. The guide, Dylan, even commented that we were good rowers and he said he doesn't pass out compliments to just any ole group. Now, he could be pulling our leg, but I don't think so because we managed to make that raft haul when we needed to.
We made it down the river very quickly. Since the water was high, so was the current which made the water run quick. It was probably one of the quickest trips I've made down that river. There were tons of people out on the water with us. There were 10 boats in our group (another group went down at the same time as our 22 people) and there were other companies out on the water as well. I would guess there were probably 50 rafts or so at the pull out point. It was kind of crazy.
When we got back to the outpost, we changed into dry clothes and were soon on the road home. We stopped to eat in Kimball and most of us ended up at the Chinese buffet, which was actually quite good. We made it back to the church around 6:00 after a successful day on the water. I was very thankful to have some fun time with my brother and my friends and to just get out of town for the day. Hope we are able to do it again soon!