Idaho River Rafting
If there is one thing Idaho has in spades, it is rivers (You thought I was going to say potatoes, right? Well, Idaho has plenty of those too). It has some of the largest and most ubiquitous rivers in the United States, and the citizens of the state realized this a long time ago. You might be thinking: Of course, they realized this; all of Idaho’s population centers are built around rivers and other water sources. But this is not what I am talking about. There is one special thing that Idahoans love to use their rivers for, and that is white water rafting. They go absolutely nuts for it, and tons of people from across the country travel to Idaho specifically for its excellent and numerous rapids. Now, as fun, as it is, white water rafting is not the easiest sport to get into, and can actually be quite dangerous if you do not know what you are doing. You are probably well aware of this, but it needs to be said. What do you need to know to get started? That is what I am here today to try and teach you. There is a lot that goes into river rafting, but there are some big points that are absolutely necessary to know at the start to have a fun and safe experience.
First, let us begin with how and where you are going to probably be river rafting. Most of the time, you are going to be with a company that will outfit you with all of the gear you need and give you a guide and instructor to keep you safe and help move the fun along. Eventually, you might find yourself out on your own with your own purchased equipment and raft, but at least at the very start, this is not going to be the case. Figure out what the best place to go is in your area and then go there. Once you are with the company and have an instructor telling you what to do, make sure to listen to him or her. This is essential, not only because it is just good sense, but because they might just tell you to get lost if you do not do what they say. There are some things that are deal breakers, and you have to follow the instructor’s lead.
What do you bring with you to these kinds of things? The equipment you need to think of most at your first trip out onto the water is clothing. Most of the safety stuff we are going to get into later is provided by the company you go with, and if it is not, you should probably not be going out with them. You want clothing that will be comfortable and warm. Idaho rivers are very cold, and aside from fast moving rocks, the most dangerous thing you will have to deal with while rafting is a hypothermia. It can set in fast, even when it is not winter. A wetsuit like you might see on a scuba diver is a good idea, and will wick moisture away from your body. A simple swimsuit might serve you well some of the time, but other times it will be a painful nightmare. Think carefully about what you wear your first time on the water because it might determine how much you enjoy it.
Next, we need to talk about some safety matters. There are two big categories here: what you need to wear and what you need to do when you get in trouble. There are two main pieces of equipment, and while an outfitter will probably provide them to you, if they do not or if you are going out on your own, you need to make sure you have these two things. A helmet and a life jacket. A helmet will keep you from bashing your head on the rocks, either keeping you alive or conscious. A collision with a rock and your head can at worst, either cause death outright, or knock you out, which might as well be the same outcome. If you are not conscious, you are more likely to drown because you are not awake to swim.
As for the life jacket, you do not wear it because you do not know how to swim. You wear it for those times that you get knocked out despite the helmet. Rather than sink to the bottom of the river and drown, you float on the surface where either your head gets kept above water or your corafters still on the raft may see you easily and pull you out. Sure, a life jacket is not always comfortable and does not look cool, but it might save your life when disaster strikes.
One bit of trouble you can get in is being thrown from the raft but remaining conscious. If you are out in the water with rapids and white water all around you, you need to do your best to get out. If the raft is close and easy to get back into without spilling out the rest of the people in it, it might be a good idea to try, but it also might be a dangerous waste of your strength. If the best option for you is to swim for the shore, do it. It is better to be on dry land and safe than in the water where things can turn bad very quickly. A raft can often go much faster than you, and the people in it might not be able to bring it to you, so do not risk your life going after it if it is out of reach.
River rafting is some of the most fun you may have in Idaho, and it will be pretty much different every time you go out. There are tons of rivers and different spots in those rivers that will give you a new experience. Consider giving it a shot. You may have a blast and might find you have a taste for it.