Monday, July 29, 2013

The Thrills and Spills of White Water Rafting in Columbus, GA

Rapids the morning of... Photo © by Judy Wells.

Twelve years ago the Chattahoochee River and the city of Columbus were in need of urban renewal.  But, the private and public sectors worked together to change the tide - literally.  Today, the city boasts the longest urban white water course in the world.

Do we really want to do this? Photo © by Judy Wells
 The Good Girls investigated some of the 15-mile Columbus RiverWalk in the morning- a place where folks stroll, exercise, bike, and fish.  When we got down to the area with rock studded “big water” I nearly changed my mind.  Recent rains have swollen the river and the water truly rushes along. This gnarly section of class 4 rapids (would have been class 5 if the course hadn't been groomed to prevent rafts getting hung up in rocks) looked more powerful than I could handle. Certainly Judy would need to back out as her recent recovery from a broken foot might be in jeopardy.

Debi and Ruth geared to go. Photo © by Judy Wells.
However, when 1:30 came and it was time to don a life jacket and helmet, I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip by.  Ruth from Laurie Rowe Communications would join me instead of Judy. Casey, our raft guide from White Water ExpressOutfitters, was confident and couldn’t wait to give us an exciting adventure. 
Debi and Ruth learning how to go safely. Photo © by Judy Wells.

After a general group briefing, we hopped into the van along with our oars and were driven to the loading zone. No sooner did we enter the Chattahoochee River (I love saying that name) than we encountered our first series of rapids.  “Dig,” hollered Casey and the four rafters on board attempted to stroke together. 

The splash and spray of the river felt exhilarating as the sun was out and temperatures were running in the low nineties. Woo-hoo; bring it on. That was fun!

We lazed through the next section, the river doing the work of pushing the raft forward.  We enjoyed views of Blue Heron around the Habitat Pool, a man-made zone created by the river project engineers.  Shoal Bass, which spawn in rough water, have returned now that the river churns with rushing tides. In all, two dams were removed from the river along with any sharp rock formations.

Hitting high water. Photo © by Judy Wells.
Casey mentally prepared us for the challenging lower course and let those of us on the raft decide how we wanted to approach.  No wimpy rafters here, we choose the hot and spicy route. 

In high water, Photo © by Judy Wells.
Oh my gosh, we had a wild ride as our raft bounced along, waves crashing in and over the sides. I screamed- but with delight not fright. I momentarily thought we would flip, as the raft seemed to fold up in the middle.  Ruth fell forward while I slipped backward.  But, with Casey at the bat, no one fell out and we soon recovered control of the course.  Casey called for a high five of our oars and we were all elated. 

We were offered the option of running the course again, from a slightly shorter launching location. We all choose to return, so once again our raft bounced by the old brick denim mills at river’s edge and the newer convention center and historic downtown Columbus. How very cool to have what I think of as a rural adventure in the center of town.  No need to drive hours to a park and camp out in order to get to a white water course.  In Columbus, the adventure waits just outside your hotel or restaurant door. 

- Post by Debi Lander.

1 comment:

  1. White water rafting is a fantastic thing to experience.

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