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Whitewater rafting advice

HypatiaHypatia Registered User regular
edited July 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm going whitewater rafting tomorrow! If anyone has been before, I was hoping for some advice on:

A) what to bring/if there's anything that I should be making sure not to forget other than a waterproof camera

B) being someone who is very prone to getting motion/car/air/whatever sick, is the motion of the raft something that I should probably try to take something for before going? (ginger pills, dramamine (not sure that's a good idea before going on the water though), etc)

Thanks!

Hypatia on
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Posts

  • ceresceres Just your problem OoSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited July 2011
    If there is some non-dramamine thing you can take, that would probably be best. :P

    I was 10 on a trip at sleepaway camp when I went so I don't remember too much about what you need to bring, only that it was sooooo much fun and if you don't spend the whole trip motion-sick you are going to have an awesome time!

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  • BerserkisBerserkis Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    depending on the rapids - i wouldnt recommend taking anything - other than sun screen which you would apply before heading out

    If this is part of some water rapid company - they should provide you with all the gear so thats not an issue, and they would take some pictures if youre ok with paying for them - i was with 11 friends and it cost about 45$ - so 3.50 each approx.

    Since you are prone to motion sickness - maybe take a middles seat. BUT - if you want to get the best seat Front row - usually left side.

  • ShimShamShimSham Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Might want to take some sort of water shoes if you can. Something you can slip on easily that will stay on your feet, (i.e. not flip-flops/slides) will be okay to get wet, and it'll give you grip that bare feet wouldn't. They've always been real helpful to me when I've gone.

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  • RderdallRderdall Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    When my wife and I went, the rafting company specifically told people not to wear fleece. I guess a lot of people think that fleece will help keep them warm and dry, but it actually does the opposite.

    The only other advice I have is to sit as close to the front of the raft as possible. That is where you're going to have the most fun. Yes, you'll get more wet that the others, but you won't regret it.

    And take a disposable waterproof camera. There'll be some pictures you'll enjoy looking back on.

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  • NoisymunkNoisymunk Let's go down to the beach. Rhode IslandRegistered User regular
    edited July 2011
    What river and what class of rapids will you be hitting?

    We did the Kennebec River in Maine once with the Magic Falls rafting company. Great trip, excellent day. Definitely take the ginger pills. You're going to get bumped around a bit when running the rapids. Sit in the middle of the boat, it will be relatively less bumpy. Also, if you get sick and have to spend some time hanging over the side, your paddle won't be missed as much as if you were in the front or back.

    Our trip was about 30-45 minutes of intensity, and then about 2 and a half hours of gentle cruising and enjoying the water. Our guide was great, tough old retired Mainiac who worked the ski slopes in winter and the rivers in summer.

    What kind of food will they be providing? We had some granola bars and water, you need it after paddling through the waves, and if I remember right they had a cooler lashed into the boat for that stuff.

    Definitely bring a second pair of clothes, with some long pants and a long sleeve shirt. Being wet all day will chill you, even in the dead heat of summer. Keep them in the van for when they pick you up at the end of the trip.

    And just to psyche you up:
    3279691159_81636f75a6_z.jpg

    That's me, second seat, port (left) side of the raft. That's Mrs. Munk, Front seat, Starboard side. She has not wanted to go rafting again.

    3280512766_87d933cd91_z.jpg

    Edit:
    The previous poster made an excellent point that I completely forgot about. Cotton and fleece are your enemy. It will hold the water against your skin and take forever to dry. They gave us wetsuit tops to wear, and if you can get your hands on a surfer's rashguard or a swimming shirt, that would be excellent to have on hand.

    You also might want to bring some goldbond powder or something and keep it with your dry clothes. Chafing can definitely happen with all that paddling and shifting in your rubber seat.

  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Don't put sun lotion on your forehead because you're going to get soaked and you don't want it to run into your eyes.

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    If you're sitting up front, forgo the little foot stirrups. AKA, ankle breakers.

    If you fall out - KEEP YOUR FEET UP. They'll drill this into you, but something to keep in mind.

    Rafting is the best thing ever. I've spent a small fortune rafting in NZ. It has kinda of made me anal about helmets, but that's personal thing I guess. I've bounced off the bottom of too many rivers to not wear one. If it's class 2-3, it's not so major, but still.

    If it's cold water, they'll hook you up with polys and/or farmer john wetsuits. I also like wearing a splash jacket even it it's warm, as it does a great job preventing sunburn.

    The sunscreen above the eye advice is great too.

    Um... yeah, I guess that's it. But let's talk about rafting some more because god damn am I jonesing.

    Oh and if we're doing photos, here's me narrowly avoiding biting my tongue off on a particularly gnarly set of grade 5 rapids on the Wairoa!
    Spoiler:

    PSN: TheMakersMark
  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I get terrible motions sickness but rafting never seemed to trigger it.

    If you're doing class IV and above they should be providing helmets.

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    as a whitewater guide here is what we recomend to our clients:

    for the motion sickness, take some the night before and then again first thing in the morning. having it in your system will help if you normally get drowsy from it.
    bring lunch and water, don't bring a cooler. you can usually find some room in your pfd to stuff a few granola/candy bars

    bring a change of clothes to leave in the car, some people also want a towel.

    thats all you need. if you get cold easily or burn, bring a warm synthetic layer or a sunshirt and a hat don't expect anyplace to put it on the boat that won't get wet. if your guide is nice he might be willing to stuff it in his bag.

    wear shoes that have a heel strap, ie no flip flops but something like chacos or tevas are fine.
    also don't bring anything on the boat that you don't mind losing.

    as for positioning, traditionally the front gets the wettest ride but that depends on how the guide sets up for rapids.

    you should get a saftey spiel and some instruction before you start, which you should pay attention to, the spiel is given for a reason.


    other stuff will depend on what class and river you are running.

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  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    mts wrote: »
    oh man, so much bad advice.

    Really?

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    wonderpug wrote: »
    Really?
    not yours, that sunscreen tip is great.

    though I will redact that comment upon second reading

    OP, you should have probably recieved some info from the company about logistics etc, different outfitters will have different things they do or want from you, its best to follow them

    camo_sig.png
  • HypatiaHypatia Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I'll be going on the American River in California, the brochure says it's "class IV-V excitement interspersed with more soothing stretches", no idea on what/if they'll be feeding us because the trip was booked by someone else, if that helps.

    I will definitely avoid putting sunscreen on my forehead, and the differences between sitting positions is definitely good to know. I'll also have to try the taking dramamine the night and morning before.

    Would Vibram 5 fingers be ok for footwear? I don't really have anything else other than sneakers that will stay on my feet. And do you think it will be necessary to bring a hat or sunglasses? They list that as optional.

    So far then on my list to bring is: sunscreen, a water bottle, towel, granola bars (?), waterproof camera, dramamine and/or ginger pills, extra change of clothes with some long sleeves, extra pair of shoes that won't fall off.

    Oh, and no fleece or cotton, roger that! You guys are making me super excited! :)

  • KarrmerKarrmer Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I would say Vibrams are about the best thing you could wear

  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited July 2011
    Vibrams are just the kind of thing you want.
    Motion sickness is usually triggered by the inner ear sensing movement and your eyes not registering it. Your eyes will register rapids, I guarantee it. If things like roller coasters make you queasy, then yea, you'll want to take something.

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    are you doing the north fork? thats the only class IV section on the american that is commercially guided

    its a fun stretch especially if the flow is over 1000 cfs

    fleece is fine, and cotton is probably fine especially if its hot out, more than likely you will be hot as hell.
    most likley you will be fine with motion sick a lot of people think it will be bad but the adrenaline takes over.

    the vibrams will be fine, you won't really need sunglasses or a hat, if you are doing the north fork you will be wearing a helmet anyway, and IMO sunglasses are more annoying on the river than their provided benefit. Plus the NFA is pretty shady in the gorge.

    likely they won't be feeding you anything. so I would bring a lunch. worse case is you have a sandwich to eat when you are off and waiting for the shuttle

    if you are a lady, you will want a pair of shorts/boardshorts to go over a bathing suit, preferably something not slippy. 95% sure you won't have a wet suit.

    camo_sig.png
  • HypatiaHypatia Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    They told us middle fork of the American?

    When you say non-slippy shorts, do you mean something tight to the body or just fabric that isn't slippery?

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    The middle fork is awesome. Its got tunnel chute, which is definitely one of the more exciting rapids I've had the pleasure of barreling down.

    Have a great time and let us know how it goes!

    PSN: TheMakersMark
  • MidshipmanMidshipman Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    The first and only time I went rafting (on the American River), the river was swollen well beyond it's normal level. Our guide misjudged the entrance to one of the rapids and our whole raft was dumped. We got swept down at least a mile through what seems to have been about a class IV before the river slowed down enough for us to be fished out by another raft. I spent the entire time struggling to breath in the split seconds where my head bounced up out of the water before dropping back under. It was pretty damn scary and I was so weak afterwords that all I could do for about 5 minutes was lay on the floor of the rescuing raft. I didn't lose my paddle though (and even picked up a stray that someone else dropped).

    Even with having the shit scared out of me, I still had a blast and will do it again next opportunity. Some of my friends in the raft were pretty traumatized by it though. Fortunately, none of us were hurt more than some mild scrapes and bruises.
    Spoiler:
    Spoiler:

    midshipman.jpg
  • Centipede DamascusCentipede Damascus ha ha just kidding I'm Frog ManRegistered User regular
    edited July 2011
    mts wrote: »
    fleece is fine, and cotton is probably fine especially if its hot out, more than likely you will be hot as hell.

    What no, why are you saying this?

    Wearing fleece or cotton on the river is extremely dumb. The day may be hot, but the river is pretty darn cold. Wearing fleece or cotton significantly increases your risk of hypothermia, especially if you fall in. Besides, if it's hot as hell outside, why wear fleece in the first place?

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    What no, why are you saying this?

    Wearing fleece or cotton on the river is extremely dumb. The day may be hot, but the river is pretty darn cold. Wearing fleece or cotton significantly increases your risk of hypothermia, especially if you fall in. Besides, if it's hot as hell outside, why wear fleece in the first place?
    I am saying this having guided in the American river drainage in the summer and as an avid kayaker.

    I have been on these rivers. Synthetic fleece does retain its warmth when wet, I wear itas part of my layering system every winter when i boat. and yes, normally cotton is the devil on the water and you should never wear it,. However during the summer on the american river, it is not a big deal since air temperature is likely going to be pushing into the 90s and beyond and the water is not that cold. people sometimes wear no shirt at all. so in this instance yes cotton is probably fine. I would not wear cotton any other time. I usually wear a wicking sun shrt and board shorts when i guide but that is more for sun protection then fear of water temp. our company let people wear cotton during th esummer, so check with whatever your outfitter is if they allow it or not.

    and by non slippy i mean something that is not slippery

    camo_sig.png
  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited July 2011
    I used to ski all the time and I don't remember fleece absorbing liquid. In fact, it seemed to actively repel it. I'm curious where this is coming from.

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Skoal Cat wrote: »
    I used to ski all the time and I don't remember fleece absorbing liquid. In fact, it seemed to actively repel it. I'm curious where this is coming from.
    yea, fleece is like the greatest thing ever for cold weather water sports.

    OP, keep in mind how you dress is going to be dependant on how you deal with temperatures. if you get cold easily, a lightweight synthetic baselayer is probably going to be good.

    probably best to bring some different weight layers

    camo_sig.png
  • HypatiaHypatia Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Awesome, thank you so much for all the advice! Headed out and totally psyched up!

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Hypatia wrote: »
    Awesome, thank you so much for all the advice! Headed out and totally psyched up!

    Woo! Go get some!

    I am so jealous, by the way. Should be an awesome day for it.

    Great carnage photo Midshipman. Glad it didn't scare you off rafting for good. I ran the Kaituna in NZ a few months ago, and it's got Tutea Falls, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world (about 21-25ft depending on flow). The river was pretty burly that day, and we took a relatively bad line in. Flipped at the bottom, and being in the back of the boat, I found myself in a pretty rough hold-down under the falls.

    I was able to grab the line on the back of the boat, and was holding on for dear life. Because of that, the guides had a hell of a time dragging the raft (and me!) out of the churn. Spent a good 45 seconds getting a proper beatdown, which I probably could have avoided if I had let go. But the last thing your brain is OK with in that situation is letting go of the raft! Anyway, here's a photo of the badness for good measure :wink:
    Spoiler:
    I should add that's the second time I've done that run, which probably makes me a little retarded in the risk department, but whatever!

    PSN: TheMakersMark
  • RderdallRderdall Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I'm assuming you're back today so, how did it go yesterday?

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  • HypatiaHypatia Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    It was awesome! :D

    Thank you for all the advice everyone! Sorry for the delay, it was a two day trip and I just got back, but I didn't get sick and it was a ton of fun...I even stayed in the boat!

    I tried to sit in the front of the boat but the very first thing the guide did was point at me and say, "You're riding in the back with me, I want the smallest person back there." It turned out to be ok though because he said he would keep an eye on me. Sometimes he made me get down when everyone else was paddling because he said he didn't want me to get bounced out.

    Of our 4 rafts, only 1 person got knocked out in the rapids right before the chute, and none of us got flipped. I have pictures but I have to get them developed, I hope they come out because it was really gorgeous.

    The vibrams worked out really well because they took us on an extra hike in the middle. They said it was because we were going so fast from the high water, so we could make an extra stop. And thank you for the note about the sunscreen, I didn't really understand it until I got side swiped in the head by a wave. :)

    We didn't have wet suits but did get helmets, and the water being cold was actually really nice because it was in the 90s. We actually jumped out of the boat a couple of times to cool off when we were in the calm areas.

    Thank you again, it was a really fun time and I can't wait to get the pictures back!

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Glad you had a good time! Also glad there was no carnage! Swimming the chute would not be a good experience, I reckon.

    If you get the urge again, check out the Merced river near Yosemite. It's a solid class IV, lots of fun, and the scenery is amazing. I'm dying to get over there this month.

    PSN: TheMakersMark
  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited July 2011
    PA rafting trip? :D

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • JokermanJokerman Love is careless in its choosing. Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Skoal Cat wrote: »
    PA rafting trip? :D

    The biggest difficulty being that a lot of PAers are in very different parts of the country.

    If you guys wanna come down and hit some rivers in Tennessee, i'd be game!

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  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited July 2011
    Jokerman wrote: »
    Skoal Cat wrote: »
    PA rafting trip? :D

    The biggest difficulty being that a lot of PAers are in very different parts of the country.

    If you guys wanna come down and hit some rivers in Tennessee, i'd be game!

    That's... actually not entirely unreasonable for me as I'd be coming up, not down.

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Skoal Cat wrote: »
    Jokerman wrote: »
    Skoal Cat wrote: »
    PA rafting trip? :D

    The biggest difficulty being that a lot of PAers are in very different parts of the country.

    If you guys wanna come down and hit some rivers in Tennessee, i'd be game!

    That's... actually not entirely unreasonable for me as I'd be coming up, not down.

    Go run the Gauley. Shit, I'd fly out there for it.

    PSN: TheMakersMark
  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2011
    mts wrote: »
    What no, why are you saying this?

    Wearing fleece or cotton on the river is extremely dumb. The day may be hot, but the river is pretty darn cold. Wearing fleece or cotton significantly increases your risk of hypothermia, especially if you fall in. Besides, if it's hot as hell outside, why wear fleece in the first place?
    I am saying this having guided in the American river drainage in the summer and as an avid kayaker.

    I have been on these rivers. Synthetic fleece does retain its warmth when wet, I wear itas part of my layering system every winter when i boat. and yes, normally cotton is the devil on the water and you should never wear it,. However during the summer on the american river, it is not a big deal since air temperature is likely going to be pushing into the 90s and beyond and the water is not that cold. people sometimes wear no shirt at all. so in this instance yes cotton is probably fine. I would not wear cotton any other time. I usually wear a wicking sun shrt and board shorts when i guide but that is more for sun protection then fear of water temp. our company let people wear cotton during th esummer, so check with whatever your outfitter is if they allow it or not.

    and by non slippy i mean something that is not slippery

    Absolutely. I've worn a good fleece top when rafting in eastern Washington on the Methow river in May when it can still be quite chilly. Proper fleece is excellent at shedding large quantities of water from your skin very rapidly. I'm certainly not saying you'll be dry seconds later, but it does hold relatively little moisture and does retain its insulating properties quite well.

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited July 2011
    It occured to me that some people may be confusing fleece with flannel, because that is the only thing that makes sense.

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Druhim wrote: »
    Absolutely. I've worn a good fleece top when rafting in eastern Washington on the Methow river in May when it can still be quite chilly. Proper fleece is excellent at shedding large quantities of water from your skin very rapidly. I'm certainly not saying you'll be dry seconds later, but it does hold relatively little moisture and does retain its insulating properties quite well.
    its possible skoal, but i doubt it. i prefer wool myself. since it feels a lot nicer when its wet and if it gets hot out its not terrible to wear. I tend to be a big baby with cold water and wear a lightweight wool baselayer when i kayak even during the summer. Obviously more during the winter.

    as for the gauley, you still have some time, the season isn't until the fall.

    camo_sig.png
  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Yeah, I've got an icebreaker merino baselayer that is pretty much my favorite bit of clothing. So wonderfully warm.

    I'd love to get out to WV just for that river. The videos of the upper section give me a whitewater half-stack.
    Spoiler:

    PSN: TheMakersMark
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    i have been planning on kayaking the upper for like 2 years now and have missed the season for some reason or another. looks like i will miss it again this year.

    icebreaker makes good stuff, and that is what i wear. Between a lightweight, mid weight and my fleece bunny suit i am covered year round

    camo_sig.png
  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    mts wrote: »
    i have been planning on kayaking the upper for like 2 years now and have missed the season for some reason or another. looks like i will miss it again this year.

    icebreaker makes good stuff, and that is what i wear. Between a lightweight, mid weight and my fleece bunny suit i am covered year round

    Rock on man. I'd love to learn how to ww kayak. I've done class 2 / low 3 in a rubber ducky, and that was pretty fun, even though I flipped the thing twice. But yeah, I'm a total sucker for GoPro videos these days - it's vicarious adrenaline I guess.

    Like this one!

    PSN: TheMakersMark
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    well if that is the case than here is one i made

    http://vimeo.com/20710708

    camo_sig.png
  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    mts wrote: »
    well if that is the case than here is one i made

    http://vimeo.com/20710708

    Awesome video bro, thanks for sharing it. That section around the 5-6 min mark looks like fun. It also looks bloody cold! Let me if you ever throw another video up. I love this stuff.

    And don't mind me if I hit you up for advice down the road :rotate:

    PSN: TheMakersMark
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    yea, unfortunately haven't been out due to health issues, but when I do, i will have my camera with me. that was the first time i had the camera out too. off hand i think 5-6 is the meat of the run through suck hole, but that is off my fuzzy memory. that and the first rapid are the two biggest.

    it was pretty cold, but not as bad as i have been in.

    camo_sig.png
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