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Why Everyone Should Whitewater Raft At Least Once!

May 12, 2022

If you’ve been thinking about a rafting trip, but are still indecisive or nervous, here are a few reasons why you should take the trip! 

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve never worked as a river raft guide or ran a river outpost. While most of us weren’t destined to be professional river guides, everyone—from overworked employees to adventure-seeking vagabonds, busy moms, bearded hipsters, baby-boomer retirees or a child’s first time in an organized activity outdoors—can benefit from going on a rafting trip at least once.  

Imagine… paddle tightly gripped in hand, as the raft pushes off leaving the riverbank behind… there is a mix of emotions that you can feel throughout your entire body; butterflies of excitement, nerves, and anticipation, but also the calm of leaving it all behind. The day-to-day stress seems to melt away as you focus on the flow of the river and what lies around the next bend. A whitewater rafting trip offers more than just a “fun” time. There are physiological and mental benefits, worldly lessons, and of course, memories. Whether it’s your first time down the Nantahala or a full-day river trip down the Wild and Scenic Chattooga, here are a few reasons you should seize the opportunity to go! 

To Connect (or Disconnect) The first time I went rafting, I went into it thinking, “I can’t wait to get into nature and disconnect for a few hours.” But that’s not what happened. Instead, I connected. A robin blue-sky, long-range river views, the tremendous power of rapid, chirping birds, and the sun beaming on the water’s surface, back towards me. Traveling downriver at a few miles per hour, you have the time to relax in your surroundings. You notice the sheer power of erosion, the constant change of the scenery, and the anticipation of what lies ahead. There are only a few times in your life you can tune in, ponder, and be inspired by nature. When you slow down to river time, you are afforded the gift of presence and enter “the flow state” where every distraction, fear, and thought other than powering forward simply disappears. 

 Spending quality time. There is perhaps no better experience than a river trip to nurture friendships and strengthen family bonds. For a small window of time, you must work together. You keep the boat moving, hold on tight through rapids, paddle around obstacles, and idle away from flat-water sections. Coordinating strokes, maneuvering through the next rapid, or grabbing a paddle overboard. When the trip is complete and you get off the river, you realize that the single experience and unified effort you shared with these folks—whether they are siblings, old friends, or people you just met—will never be replicated. Quality time on the river is as good as it gets. 

 Expand your comfort zone. There’s nothing like the uncertainty of nature, the environment of a river, and the mystery of what lies downstream to pull you out of your comfort zone. The river contains wonders, unknowns, and adventure that are a world apart from the standard work life. Fortunately, your time on the river will be stripped of gadgets, habits, and distractions and be replaced by the adrenaline of running rapids, the serenity of the surrounding forest, and the exploration of the river.  

 Discover how capable you are! Our river guides observe this on EVERY trip. A nervous child or an anxious non-swimmer is uncertain about what is ahead and if they can do it. After just a few rapids, there is a shift. The increase in confidence that they can paddle through rapids, the joy on their face, and the empowering feeling when the raft pulls into the take-out! This evolution and experience overflow into life’s challenges and how we all learn to face them, head-on.  

 Of course, it’s fun! The most obvious of all the outcomes is fun! From splashes and surprises to cheesy guide jokes and spending time with your favorite people, having fun is key to every rafting trip. 

 These benefits cannot be fully appreciated through a screen or purchased in a store. They are only the rewards of a whitewater rafting trip down the river. 

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