5 Things Every White Water Rafter Should Avoid

Adventure without risk is Disneyland. –Doug Coupland

1. Drunken Rafting

“I can do that. Here, hold my beer…”

Back in the cowboy days of rafting, it used to be said that you’re not doing it right unless you’re doing it hung-over. But liquid courage is not the same thing as courage itself, the two don’t exactly equate to be the same thing. One has an absence of reason and logic, while the other uses both of those to proceed with caution. And caution, my friends, should always be used when endeavoring to do an adventurous and dangerous activity. Drinking yourself blind only shields your eyes from seeing potential hazards, it doesn’t make those hazards go away.

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2. Not Wearing Safety Equipment  

“Wear a helmet… what for bro? I hit the water harder than it hits me!”

There is a reason we have the safety equipment we do. It’s not available so that you don’t wear it in order to look more hardcore. True, your head is harder than water. But it’s not harder than the rocks under the water. Sure, you’re an A-class swimmer. But you don’t wear a life vest because you can’t swim. Chances are if you can’t swim, the last activity you’ll want to do is go white water rafting. You wear a life vest because a river can suck you under, and keep you under; regardless of how well you could backstroke in high school. These things may not be the most fashionable, but I would prefer to look like a fool, than die like one.


3. Worrying Over Your Tan

“No I’m not paddling. Can’t you see? I’m getting my bronze on, I don’t want tan lines.”

The old adage is rather apt; it does take two to tango. In rafting, if one person doesn’t do their work, someone has to do twice as much. This can become extremely dangerous in rougher conditions, and if you’re not on point and paying attention through the whole ride, you can very well be taken by surprise when coming around a bend. If everyone isn’t ready at the moment they see the obstacles and hazards to avoid, you may very well be unable to avoid them. Ensuring you get a proper tan, or doing anything else that takes your attention away from rafting, is downright dangerous. Your tan lines won’t seem so important when your’re pale from nearly drowning after being tossed out the raft.     


4. Not Knowing The River

“No man, don’t worry. It’s going to be easy. My uncle rafted this river back in the 60’s.”

Before doing anything that could be considered dangerous, it’s wise to know exactly what you’re getting into. Having a firm understanding of a river, and any problematic obstacles that might arise is paramount to rafting that river safely. Trusting your uncle’s advice of when he rafted it 40 years ago really isn’t all that relevant anymore. Furthermore, you shouldn’t trust outright the word of anyone, as something that was easy for one person may very well be difficult for you.

It goes with the winter wilderness maxim to never follow someone else’s trail they’ve trotted simply because it’s there and seems easier. You don’t know where that trail goes, nor do you know what happened to the people who made it. The only person in the world you can truly trust to determine what you’re capable of is you. With that in mind, be sure to always do your own research in regards to what a river might entail. You can listen to others advice, just follow up on it before diving in. You only get one chance in a river to not make a mistake at any point throughout it. Those odds are not terribly good, so safety through investigating and planning is the best precaution.  

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5. Don’t Be A Sour Puss

“No, it was terrible. Between the rain and the cold, I can’t imagine why anyone does this.”

 There is nothing worse for other rafters than having to deal with someone that doesn’t want to be there. By making your terrible mood known to all, you’ve done nothing to make yourself happier. All you will have accomplished is upsetting the other people while making their experience just as terrible as yours. If it’s raining, it’s hard to be upset from getting wet when… well, you’re rafting. If it’s cold, it’s hard to be upset when you should have known because well… you’re rafting. If you’re tired from paddling, well it’s hard to be upset because well… you’re rafting. You know what you signed up for when getting into the raft.

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There should be no surprises as to what to expect. Water, cold, fatigue, heat, blisters, thrills, spills and the list goes on. If during the difficult times of life you are unable to see what is good in that moment, if you ever lose your ability to laugh at your own misfortune, you probably don’t laugh much to start. But others can. Others are at times able to enjoy themselves amidst the worst conditions, because though we hate to admit it, life isn’t always great. Sometimes it’s terrible. But that’s life, and that’s what makes it life. Taking what you can from something that doesn’t offer much is what makes humans so special. We can find pleasure in pain, comfort from misfortune, and happiness in the darkest of times. Those that are unable to do these things forget that it is indeed always darkest before dawn. Some hate to ever see their sun set, while others relish in the moments of waiting for theirs to arise. The idea being, don’t be a sour puss. If you’re having a bad time, well that sucks for you. If you knew you couldn’t cook, should have kept out the kitchen.

The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi. If you enjoyed this piece you can follow me on Twitter @TheWorldVoyager. If you are interested in Rafting Colorado, be sure to check out InARaft.com for rafting trip availability.

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