April 14, 2021
My First Time Rafting: The Lower New River
My First Time Rafting: The Lower New River
For the past 9 years, I’ve always considered myself to be a climber. Hands and feet to rock and 50 feet in the air always seemed like a safe spot for me. I recently started a new position in the marketing department at Ace Adventure Resort and one of my first projects was to go rafting (for the first time). Funny enough, I didn’t think this would fall under a must for working for a rafting company. Something about the thought of my body over water instead of rock, didn’t sit right with me. On my first day of work, I was told I would go rafting on the Lower New River with my co-workers that following weekend. My limited knowledge of the New River told me that the Upper New was the more mild side of the river but that was not where I was headed. The Lower New River was in my future and I was going to be rafting on it whether I liked it or not.
The rest of the week leading up to my first rafting trip, I was told rafting the Lower New would be fun! I was a little skeptical. I had always thought of rafting as a team type activity and for me, the thing I liked about rock climbing was that it was a more individual sport. Also, I was very scared of falling into a rapid in early April waters. Finally it is Friday night and my first rafting trip is the next day. After much thought and consideration, I finally realize that I don’t have any experience with rafting. Not much knowledge and nothing to compare it to. So what am I so scared of? The unknown? That didn’t seem like such a good reason.
Saturday is here and I feel more ready. Ready to raft on the Lower New for the fist time and ready to try rafting for the first time in general! My co-workers and I check in for our rafting trip and we grab our PFD’s, helmets, and paddles. We get on the bus and begin our trip to Cunard where we will put our rafts in. We get our rafting guide for our trip, Tristan, and begin to take our raft into the river. As we get in, Tristan instructs us on paddling forward and backward together as well as information about all the rapids and the swimming direction in case we fall out. The excitement starts to build as I realize, “I’m here and I’m doing this.”
Our first rapid is coming up as I’m listening to my guide’s voice, “Forward, 3.” I try my best to paddle in unison and we go through our first rapid named ‘Pinball‘, a class III rapid. We make it through in one piece! As we keep flowing North, we make it through several rapids varying from class I to class IV. Finally, coming up was something I had been dreading: my first class V rapid. Coming up was the Keeney’s, 3 rapids, one after the other, only increasing in class. These rapids were definitely more intense than the last few we encountered by we made it through without anyone falling out. Shortly thereafter, the last class V rapid came up, Double Z. By far the most technical rapid on the Lower New, the wide range of runnable flows make for an equally wide range of features and difficulties like every other rapid in the New River Gorge. The ups and downs of Double Z make me brace myself for the possibility of being thrown. I didn’t fall out and neither did anyone else, but I did get water slapped across my face and body a few times. After a couple more rapids, we had our last rapid, Fayette Station a class IV, where after that we would take out our raft and head back to Ace Adventure Resort on the bus.
After we moved the raft out of the water and got back on the bus, I felt so accomplished. I did it! I tried something new and something unknown and it felt good. I actually ended up liking my first rafting trip! The excitement of going through the rapids made my adrenaline start to pump and I didn’t even think about any worries I had earlier in the week. All my reasoning for being skeptical about rafting, didn’t pan out. Earlier, I mentioned being wary of team activities. Well, rafting is a team activity and it was very rewarding and fun! I definitely felt better knowing I had raft full of other people trying to make it across the river, just like me. It wasn’t rapids the entire time either, like I might’ve thought earlier. Occasionally there would be some calmer sections where I could take a breath, enjoy the scenery, and prepare for an upcoming rapid. Overall, my first time rafting the Lower New River was very fun and I can’t wait to do it again soon!