Tag Archives: white water rafting

White Water Rafting: Good Exercise And Great Fun

White Water Rafting On The Youghiogheny RiverRegular exercise is a requirement for a healthy and “forever young” life. To put more years in your life — and more importantly, more life in your years — you must exercise.

The best approach to exercise is to simply “set it and forget it.” That is, make exercise a regular part of your life. Make it a habit, a part of your daily routine. Don’t think about it, just do it.

Another strategy is to add fun exercise activities to your life. Doesn’t it make sense that the more fun something is, the more likely you will do it?

Adventure Sports And Extreme Sports

Have you ever tried any of the adventure sports?

These are sports that not only provide exercise but also are thrilling and adventurous. Water-based examples are white water kayaking and white water rafting. On land, you can do mountain biking. And in the air, you can bungee jump or skydive.

Actually, depending on how you define “adventure sports” or “extreme sports,” the list could include such things as Base Jumping, BMX, Canyoning, Caving, Cliff Diving, Climbing, Hang Gliding, Kite Surfing, Motor Cross, Mountaineering, Parachuting, Rock Climbing, Scuba Diving, Ski Jumping, Skiing, Snowboarding, Surfing, Ultra Distance Running, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Windsurfing, Wingsuit Flying and more. (There’s even something called Skyaking, where you skydive in a kayak!)

Mixing adventure and extreme sports into your exercise regime can be incredibly exhilarating and mucho fun.

I recently reminded myself how much fun white water rafting is.

White Water Rafting On The Lower Yough

White Water Rafting On The Youghiogheny RiverLast weekend, we spent 5 hours white water rafting on the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.

Most people call the river simply “the Yough” (pronounced “Yock”). We arranged our rafting trip on the Lower Yough through White Water Adventurers.

The guides, who were named “A.J.” (although his tat said “A.D.” for some reason), Smiles and Anna, started us off with instructions. Mostly, they made sure we knew how to wear our safety equipment, a life vest and a helmet. (It turns out snug is the way to wear both.) They admonished us not to clobber our raft mates with our paddles. And they told us what to do in the likely event we got pitched out of our raft going through the rapids.

Their number 1 “you’re in the water, now what do you do” tip was this: don’t try to stand on the bottom in the rapids. There are cracks and crevices in the rocks where you could get a foot caught. You don’t want that because the rushing water could then force your underwater, even with a life jacket on. If you and your raft go different directions through the rapids, and you cannot climb back in, get on your back and keep your feet up and facing downstream through the rapids.

We were part of a midday Sunday group that had about 15 rafts. In our raft were our group of 4 — Kathie, Laura, John and me — as well as 2 others that joined us, Liz and Numbnuts (that may not have been his actual name, but it’s what we now call him because we found him a little, shall we say, annoying).

After 20 minutes or so of instructions, we carried our rafts to the river. That’s when we discovered that the water temperature was 56 degrees! Talk about having an incentive to stay in the raft!


White Water Rapids Classifications


Class I: Class I rapids are the easiest. This is generally flat, moving water with few or no waves or obstructions. Very little steering is needed.

Class II: Class II rapids are slightly more difficult. This water may have medium-sized waves and may require some maneuvering around rocks.

Class III: Class III rapids have many moderate, irregular waves, fast currents and narrow passages. These rapids are less forgiving if you make a mistake. You may encounter large but easily navigable waves.

Class IV: Class IV rapids are very difficult and require advanced maneuvering skills. These rapids have cross-currents, fast and turbulent water and large, powerful waves.

Class V: Class V rapids are extremely difficult. These waters are intense and have powerful currents, cross-currents, large drops and holes as well as obstructed, turbulent rapids.

Class VI: Class VI rapids are impossible, or almost impossible, to navigate.

The Lower Yough has class II, III and IV rapids. (The Middle Yough is much tamer and the Upper Yough is for white water Class V maniacs.)

As we approached each rapid, our entire group gathered in an eddy at the side of the river and one of the guides “talked us up.” That’s guide-speak for telling us what the upcoming rapid is like and the best way to get through it with all your body parts intact.

As you go through each rapid, the idea is to stay in the raft and keep your raft off the rocks.

We did fairly well at staying in the raft. Over the course of the trip, we only had 2 flip outs, and they didn’t totally leave the raft. They thoughtfully left us a leg or an arm to use to drag them back in.

Missing the rocks was a different matter.

We kept getting stuck on rocks. Once we were just paddling down the river between rapids when we got stuck on a rock we didn’t even see (although we should have). How embarrassing.

Actually, getting stuck on rocks is easy to do. Getting unstuck isn’t always easy. If the water is not deep and not moving too rapidly, you can jump out of the raft and push it off the rock. Otherwise, you figure out where the rock is under your raft and get everyone to the opposite side of the raft, where you bounce up and down to free the raft. The bouncing looks incredibly silly, but it usually works.

As we went through one of the exhilarating Class IV rapids, we slammed into a gigantic rock . . . and got stuck there. While our pulses accelerated to NASCAR speeds, we struggled to free our raft while being bombarded by fast-rushing white water. Fortunately, there was a guide on the rock who helped get us off. He nonchalantly told us later that if another raft had hit us while we were stuck, our raft would have flipped for sure.

While it may not sound it, we actually got pretty good at handling our raft. We figured out when one side should be paddling harder than the other, when everyone should be paddling hard and straight, when to back paddle and when to just hang on.

Probably the most important thing we learned is to keep paddling through the rapids, to hold your raft on course. There’s a tendency to forget to paddle and just hang on as you are jerked to and fro by the river but you should keep paddling.

Going through the rapids was exhilarating, especially the 2 Class IVs. And we felt a real sense of accomplishment every time we came out of a rapid and were still in the raft.

The weather was great. The river was beautiful. We could have gone on indefinitely.

However, seven miles down the river, and 15 or so Class II, III and IV rapids after we started, we came to the end of our trip. We took our rafts out, carried them to waiting trucks and hopped on a bus which took us back to our cars.

How was it? Incredible! We all loved it! We can’t wait to go again.

Is White Water Rafting For You?

White Water Rafting On The Youghiogheny RiverWhat you trade for the excitement of white water rafting is some degree of danger. If you are not comfortable with that, or if you have physical limitations, you should skip white water rafting.

However, if your fitness level allows it, white water rafting can be a great activity for virtually any age. Most in our group were in their 20s and 30s.

And then there was us. Kathie and I were twice as old as most of the others, but we’re sure we had twice as much fun as them, too.