Wet and Wild: Riding the New River Part 1

Rafting the New River in West Virginia

Now let’s get back to some camping adventures.  The thrill of whitewater rafting.  Ever try it?

            If you’re an experienced paddler, late spring is a great time to go whitewater rafting as the spring thaw in the mountains feeds the streams with thundering whitewater.  Children need to be at least 14 years of age to raft in spring.    
Although my husband and I rafted before and we took the children on smaller rafting trips, everyone wanted to try rafting the big water.  So our summer camp trip revolved around rafting the New River in West Virginia.  We camped in the New River Gorge area and took a full day guided river trip with the Appalachian Wildwater outfitters on the Lower New River.  In the summer, the water isn’t as high and children can raft at 12, our youngest the twins’ age.  
            Rafters are required to wear helmets and life vests to take on the New River.  And the rafting guides came along to check and tighten these vests once we put them on. 
            I didn’t know that as my husband and I checked our children’s vests to be sure they were properly closed.  Then a lady came by and yanked on everyone’s vest straps.  My eyes started bulging as did the children’s.
            “Is breathing important?”  I squeaked to the woman.
            “Not nearly as much as being able to find the body in the river,” she quipped.
            I rushed over to my husband.  “I’ve changed my mind.”
            “You’re getting hysterical,” he whispered as our guide Seth demonstrated the paddle commands and moves.
            “It’s because the blood’s cut off to my brain,” I croaked.
            I glanced at the children.  Seth’s authoritative voice held their attention as they copied his motions.  If they can function in tight vests, so can I.      
All seven of us went on one 14 foot raft—plus our guide, who sat at the back of the raft.  We put in at Thurmond and planned to come out right before the New River Gorge Bridge. 
After the first rapid—Surprise, yes the rapids are named—the adrenaline started pumping.  Roller coaster waves!  Water in your face waves!  Hold on to your tube—and paddle—waves!  I kept shouting to the children to tuck their sneakers under the huge outer tube they sat on to paddle.
Seth was correct.  Did we ever doubt him?  We had calm periods on the water between the rapid series.   

            But then Seth shattered my calm, deep-breathing float in the raft after a few rapid series. 

12 thoughts on “Wet and Wild: Riding the New River Part 1”

  1. That must be intense with a bunch of young children. I would be scared out of my mind. I went with my husband and some friends a few years back. It was a lot of fun! Of course, we were all much older. Your stories are always so exciting! Thanks for the entertainment!

  2. Thank you so much, Michelle, for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. Yes, whitewater rafting is very exciting. My husband and I went rafting "BC" [before children], too. Of course, it was less stressful without the worry of the children and we were younger then. But this was the first time we did the big water of the New River.

    Thanks again for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. Please stop by again to hear more of our adventure on the New River.

  3. Thank you so much, Bill, for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. It is greatly appreciated. We never got to raft the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon with the children as it was too expensive for seven, plus we'd need to get out there camping all the way. Instead, we focused on camping cross-country to see the mighty Sequoias and Redwood trees. I admit it. I'm a tree hugger.

    Bill, I'm sure with all the hiking and exploring you do that you will be able to make it to our country and raft that mighty river. Let us know, via your blog, when you do. I'd like to hear that adventure as well.

    Thanks again, Bill, for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. Stop by again.

  4. Thank you so much, Marie, for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. Whitewater rafting can be scary for sure, but it is exhilarating. It's always best to have an experienced guide in the raft with you, someone who knows the present conditions of the river.

    Thanks again for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. Please stop by again to hear about the next leg of our journey on the river.

  5. I love to go rafting! Camping with kids
    can be so cool, and very interesting. They are always so happy outside where they can go running and playing however they want! We live in city and for us camping is such a fun trip, away from all the noise.

  6. Hello and welcome, Martina, to my Camping with Kids blog.
    Yes, I agree. Being outside with kids, especially in nature and camping, benefits the whole family. It is time to build treasured memories for all. The quiet of camping with kids, well that sounds like a paradox for sure, but I know what you mean "away from all the noise" of the city. I think it’s important for parents to take children into the countryside and camp to be able to enjoy each other’s company away from all the distractions of home.
    Thanks again, Martina, for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. Please stop by again.

  7. I went rafting on the New River 2 days in a row with the same guide. The second night my friends and I went out with the guide and he fell asleep at dinner. We could not wake him up the locals told us that he had narcolepsy and we would just have to leave him he would eventually wake up. NARCOLEPSY! OUR RAFTING GUIDE HAD NARCOLEPSY! That is not safe! LOL.
    It was a great adventure, I also saw the biggest spiders I have ever seen in US on that river while we were waiting on a raft to be rescued.
    Thanks for sharing this story.

  8. Hello and welcome, Sharon. Thank you so much for visiting my Camping with Kids blog.
    YIKES! The raft guide had narcolepsy? Absolutely right that's not safe. And a two-day trip. I wouldn't have slept the night through.
    Now about those spiders…I don't like spiders. It's so funny that we've camped for years. I've backpacked the Appalachian Trail with my son and one of the twins and saw some huge spiders.
    Did you see the spiders when you camped the night or were the spiders along the banks of the river?
    Either way, I'm glad we only rafted for the day and then hobbled back to our pop-up trailer.
    Thanks again, Sharon, for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. Please stop by again.

  9. Hello and welcome to Camping with Kids, Bill L. You are so right. If families are searching for adventure, what better place than on a wild river.

    Thanks again for visiting Camping with Kids. Please stop by again.


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