Facing the Rapids

White water rafting is an activity I wanted to experience firsthand but never had. It just seemed a bit out of my comfort zone, as the risk of getting bucked off of a raft made me nervous. However, my excitement outweighed my nerves when my family organized a trip to Northern Outdoors in West Forks, Maine in August 2018.

The Morning Of

From the southern Maine area where I live, the drive to Northern Outdoors was a solid 2.5 hour journey. We had to be on site at the rafting location by 7:45am to meet the instructors and gear up. Needless to say, our morning was an early one. We packed up the car with snacks, water, sunscreen, and a change of clothes and hopped in. We grabbed breakfast sandwiches and coffee on the road, making it just in time to meet on site.

Once on site, we were given a safety debriefing and geared up. For practical reasons, most of us wore water resistant shorts and tees, and even swimsuits. We also planned ahead by packing water shoes, which definitely came in handy later on!

Driving to the Kennebec River

After our safety training and changing into proper attire, we were instructed to grab a paddle and a life jacket before boarding the bus. We did not realize we had a 45 minute drive from the Northern Outdoors site to the actual location of white water rafting. We had to drive up the length of the Kennebec River because the rafting adventure would end toward the end of the river, back at Northern Outdoors.

Facing the Rapids

After a long morning of driving and prep, we finally made it onto the river. My biggest surprise those first few moments on the water was how we had to sit on the edge of the raft. It hadn’t occurred to me how much balance was involved as we rode the rapids, all the while sitting on the edge of the raft.

If I am being honest, I was nervous about falling backwards off the raft the entire time. Whenever we hit rapids, I would grab onto the rope inside of the raft, rather than paddle my way through the rapid, which is not exactly best practice. However, our group instructor said that my family and friends were paddling strong enough that they compensated for me.

Lunch on the Kennebec

Midway through our time rafting we pulled off for lunch on a beach. Part of our rafting fee was allocated to lunch, which ended up being a spread of BBQ meat, rice, veggies, and a cookie for dessert. It was really relaxing to eat and mingle by the river and the time off the raft gave us a chance to chill out before finishing up the trip. The food was not the best, but it was decent enough to curb our appetite.

Swimming in the Kennebec

We ended our trip in the best way possible – swimming in the river! Once we made it through all of the rapids our instructor let us hop off the raft and float for quite a while. It was one of the best feelings to swim in the fresh, cool water of the Kennebec River on a hot August day. The sun was shining down on us as we swam around and floated in the current. For me, swimming our way down the river was the highlight of the day.

Praise for Northern Outdoors

Overall, my first time white water rafting was a pretty decent experience. I would be open to going again in the future, but I do see myself reacting the same way. Sitting on the edge of the raft really had me nervous the whole time. But, swimming made up for being a bit nervous.

If you want to try white water rafting out for yourself, consider Northern Outdoors!

Rachael Tulipano