Idaho River Rafting
If there is one thing that Idaho has a lot of, it is rivers (You thought I was going to say potatoes. You were thinking it). Idaho has more rivers than any other state in the Union. They crisscross the land like a living thing’s vascular system, pumping water like blood to uncountable lakes and reservoirs, making sure humans and animals alike have what is absolutely necessary for life. As you might imagine, Idaho culture has grown to make sure these rivers and lakes are a vital part of that culture. Idahoans tend to go a little bit nuts at times for their rivers at times, and they spend a lot of time on them. One of the biggest activities Idahoans make use of their rivers for is white water river rafting. A good string of rapids on a stiff current with the possibilities of some high-speed rafting. If you live in Idaho and have not taken advantage of its rivers for such an activity, or if you are planning on moving to the state or visiting, you can look forward to having a blast with a raft. But, river rafting is not something you just jump into and are instantly a master of. If you are only a casual river rafter, there are options available to you, but that still means a little bit of instruction is required. If you want to get into this sport, then I have a few things that might help you do so, and also a bit of advice about the dangers of river rafting and how to do your best to avoid them.
You are going to get wet, and knowing Idaho’s typical climate, you are going to be very cold when you get wet. This means coming prepared to any river rafting excursion with the appropriate clothing. A wet suit of some kind is what I would advise, but at least wear something that will not get ruined if it is wet and will keep you warm when you are inevitably submerged or splashed (You are going to be splashed a lot). Also, make sure you have something you can store items you do not want to get wet inside. It is hard to be without your phone, even if you are spending a great deal of time on the water, so do not put yourself in a position where your phone or other electronics can be damaged or lost while you are having fun (Having them damaged or lost would probably put an immediate end to that fun). Get yourself a watertight container and lash it securely to your raft or to your person.
You also need to consider your safety when picking out the right outerwear. I am primarily referring to a helmet and a life preserver. You might be saying: “Why would I need a helmet on the water?” Usually, you do not, but when whitewater and rapids get involved, you gain a higher chance of knocking your head into something hard and sharp. There are lots of rocks in whitewater, and as much as you might like to hope you will just land in (relatively) soft water if you fall off of the raft, the chances are you are going to hit a rock. Hitting your head on a rock can be instant death. Conversely, it might mean slow death when you are knocked unconscious and risk drowning. A helmet can very easily save your life, even if it is uncomfortable. To help you in a similar situation, there is a life jacket. Even if you are a capable swimmer, wear a life jacket. It does not exist to keep you afloat when you are healthy and in calm waters. A life jacket is there for those times when the water is stronger than you, and you need help to keep above the surface, and for the times when you have been knocked unconscious (which can still happen, even if you are wearing a helmet (still wear one though). For those times when you are incapacitated, whether that means you are unconscious or just unable to swim because of a broken bone, a life jacket will keep you above the surface and its bright colors will point you out for anyone who is coming to save you. Again, it might be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but it is better to remain as safe as possible. Better safe than sorry.
At some point, you might find yourself separated from the raft. Whitewater rafting can get pretty rough, and no matter how firmly you are planted in the raft, you can pretty easily be tossed out of it. If the water is calm and you have just fallen out because you lost your balance, you are probably fine (as long as you can swim and you are unharmed). However, this is usually not going to be the case. If you end up outside of the raft, it probably means you are in some pretty violent waters. Do everything you can to either get back to the raft or get to shore. Still, the raft is not always going to be the best option. If you find yourself away from your friends in the raft and you cannot get back to them, do not waste all of your precious energy fighting the current and rocks to get back to them. The safest way might just be to get to the shore as fast as possible. The sides of the river are not going to move away from you, so there is no danger of being left behind. It is better to be out of the water than to drown because you fought the river for too long.
These should give you a head start on rafting on some sick rapids. This is not all there is to rafting, but it might be the most important. Rafting can be dangerous, so you want to do everything possible to mitigate those dangers. Find endless opportunity for fun in Outdoor Idaho!