When I saw the first rapid, I wanted to pull the raft over and let Chris take this rapid. I’ll get the next, smaller, not so scary one. Too late!
If you’ve ever been whitewater rafting, you’ve experienced the adrenaline rush of going into a rapid. Water is flying all around you. You’re paddling as fast as your arms can go. The raft is bouncing around, and for a second you think you might flip and fall into the raging water surrounding you. Now imagine guiding a raft into that and the sense of accomplishment you have once you’ve conquered the rapid.
Touch the Earth’s Raft Guide School was a weekend full of rafting, river lunches, team building, and the occasional man overboard. We started on the Nantahala River which means “Land of the Noon Day Sun”. If you’ve never been in the river, you might think that it’s a warm river [that] you can swim in and relax on. A better name would be “Land of the Freezing Water”. Surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s easy to become lost in nature and forget that the water is 52 degrees [Fahrenheit], but a quick splash in the face reminds you. After a day of guiding the Nantahala, I felt confident in my ability to read a river and keep my crew safe.
The Ocoee is a whole different beast. It’s easy to be intimidated by it with rapids fondly named Table Saw, Broken Nose, Flipper, and Double Trouble. I’ll admit it. The Ocoee scares me.
My raft (aka Team Raft) consisted of [the leader] Micah, Chris, and me. When Micah handed me the guide stick, I went from being scared to [being] downright fearful. I mentally pumped myself up with some positive affirmations and climbed onto the back of the raft. When I saw the first rapid, I wanted to pull the raft over and let Chris take this rapid. I’ll get the next, smaller, not so scary one. Too late! The rapid was in front of us and I had no choice but to [woman]-up and guide my little raft through it. Water started splashing into the boat, we started spinning, and I was doing all that I could to avoid the huge rock on either side of us. Listening to Micah’s instructions, I was able to guide it. My confidence soared and I had the biggest grin on my face. Our team did our paddle high-five and we were ready to take on the next rapid the Ocoee threw at us.
Throughout the weekend, we grew as a team and constantly told each other how amazing everyone was doing. In new situations, it’s easy to become frustrated when faced with a difficult task. Team Raft did a great job of pumping each other up and easing the frustration. After watching a few other groups learning to guide, I’m glad I did it with Touch the Earth. The smaller group gave everyone more time to guide and allowed us to help each other. Without everyone’s positive attitude, I’m not sure I could have done it.
We ended the trip eating Mexican food in Copperhill, TN on Easter. All off us [smelled] river funky fresh, [ and were] laughing about the bloopers over the weekend. I’m looking forward to the next Nantahala trip when we can all work together again as Raft Guide School graduates.
Raft Guide School Graduate