Originally scheduled for a scenic float due to the time of year, we felt quite happy when told we could switch to white water due to the excess amount of water in the rivers this year. Not quite the peak of the season in August, but still plenty of water to keep the rapids, well……rapid.
After spending the night in Leavenworth following our pack trip, we went to Riverside Park in Cashmere for the scheduled meeting time with Alpine Adventures for our raft trip. Their well-marked gear truck stood out from the crowd in the parking lot, quite easy to find. Guides issued life jackets to all and wet suits to anyone who wanted one.
Everyone hopped aboard their bus and rode to the put-in spot near Leavenworth. After assigning everyone to a particular raft and guide, they gave a short lecture on safety and the how-to’s of river rafting. Then they put the rafts in the water and everybody climbed on board.
In the calm slow first stretch of the river, the head guide, Jamie asked the two kayakers who had come along with our group of 3 rafts to dump themselves into the water. Practice for the rapids ahead so they would know how to get back in when they needed to. A good thing, since they needed to at just about every rapid.
That done, the rafters had some opportunity to play. People got out to swim, then pulled back in by their seat mates. We all practiced following the guides’ instructions on when to paddle and how many strokes. Also whether to go forward or backward. All important to know so when the rapids hit we could maneuver safely through them.
Somewhere along the journey we passed under a bridge with a water pipe attached to the underside of it. The guides directed the paddling to bring us under a spray of water for a bit of cooling off. “It’s been leaking for about a week,” Jamie said. “I wonder if anybody knows about the leak besides the river guides.”
Once we hit the first rapid, nobody needed water sprays or dips in the river to cool off. Everyone on the boat got plenty wet in the ups and downs and big splashes of the white water.
I had my trusty waterproof camera safely tucked down my life vest, the top buckle of the life vest hooked through the camera string. It kind of limits the photo options, but keeps the camera safe. I got some photos in the calm phases of the river, often having to quickly toss the camera back down the life vest without even time to turn it off in order to follow instructions on paddling. Lazily floating again, I’d pull it out, only to be asked to paddle once more. Still, I managed to get quite a few photos in the calm areas, though none in the white water as we pretty much paddled constantly through those areas.
When we reached a dam across the river, we had to go to shore, take our yellow boats out, and carry them around. On the other side quite a large group of people with blue rafts stood in a line waiting to launch. Either they were not quite ready, or just very considerate of the fact we had fewer people because they let us pass them by and launch right away.
Further down the river we stopped at an island for lunch. We beached all the rafts and as the guides set the food out, the guests began to explore. Some previous visitor to the island made an interesting formation out of a pile of rocks. Suddenly one of the guides noticed the wanderers and called everyone’s attention to a particular plant which he said we’d best avoid as it was poison oak. Good thing nobody had touched it.
People descended upon the sandwich fixin’s, cookies, and lemonade like so many vultures as soon as the guides had everything set out. Even the last person through got plenty to eat though. They had more cookies than they could get people to take at the end.
While we sat near the riverbank enjoying our lunch, we watched the group of blue boats go by. A few people on inner tubes passed by as well.
We passed an osprey nest in a dead snag of a tree. Perched on top the nest sat the osprey. People seemed to like hanging out on the riverbank as well. We floated by several groups, one camped at the river’s edge with tents.
At the last rapid Jamie talked Mel into “riding the bull” or sitting on the front of the raft. She started out there anyway, it didn’t take long before she fell into the bow of the boat. Once there though, she had an easy hands-free ride as her paddle stayed back at her seat. Guess I should have done it for the paddle free photo opportunity. Live and learn.
Back at the park where we started once again all the rafts got beached. When everyone arrived safely we all carried the rafts back up to the park where they got deflated and loaded onto a trailer. We all turned in our gear, and discovered two different companies had taken photos at different rapids of everyone who went by that day in hopes of selling them later.
We had some great shots from both SnowDragon and River Booty, but since I already had my own shots in the calmer parts I chose to buy the River Booty photos because all of them were in the white water, while the SnowDragon photos started in a calmer part. I also figured Mel would prefer the ones where she rode the bull.
We had quite a fun day on the river with Alpine Adventures.