Whitewater rafting in the Poconos

Anyone who knows me will certify that I am petrified of open water. I am a decent swimmer in the pool, but open water scares the living daylights out of me. So when I found out that I’d be spending an entire day on the water during the DC Travel Blogger trip to the Pocono Mountains, and whitewater rafting none the less – GULP! 

8am – It’s a cold and rainy day. Rain means no rafting, right? WRONG. We were still a go for a day of rafting with Whitewater Challengers unless there were thunderstorms.  Crap. Maybe it will storm soon and we will spend the day in a brewery instead. Wishful thinking.

9am – The group is heading over to Whitewater Challengers to start our day of “adventure”. All I’m thinking is:

a.       But HOW are we going to do this in the rain?

b.      Shit, I better not fall into the water. 

c.       Okay, just think about the beer and dinner that will follow.

d.      Repeat.

10am – We checked in at the campground style campus of WWC. The staff was upbeat about the rain .. “…makes the river go faster, which is better for rafting”. Umm, no thanks.

10.30am – Distracted with a hot buffet breakfast and Fruit Loops. I loaded up, it might be my last meal right? (Okay, I was as dramatic only in my head). The group was talking about it being reminiscent of high school summer camp. I wouldn’t know, didn’t go to school here.

The campground was bustling with activity. WWC operates a number of rafting trips each day on multiple rivers with varying levels of challenge. There is also has a ziplining course, and launch points for various hiking and biking trails. 

On the yellow school bus! 

On the yellow school bus! 

11am – Now it was raining AND cold, so we got into wet suits, picked up life jackets and headed to the shuttle that takes us to the launch point. The shuttle is a typical yellow school bus that you see in the US- it was my first time in a yellow school bus so it was pretty exciting!

12 Noon – After being dropped off at the launch point, it was a short walk down to the river, and we were each handed a paddle. Our group was divided into 2 rafts, and I was fast to say we needed the expert guide on ours. No one else in the group wanted to be the “group leader” so he was signed up!

Within a few minutes we got on the raft and were in the water. IT WAS HAPPENING. No way out now. Plus, it was all being captured on a GoPro. Eek. 

Shortly after, we hit our first rapid, and were soaked. The water was warm, but the rain and breeze made the air cold. Everyone was glad we had wetsuits on.

ready to go!

ready to go!

It took a few minutes for us to synchronize our paddles, and get settled in, but our captain had everything in control. The Lehigh River is calm in stretches, with patches of rapids. We saw rafts getting stuck on rocks, a couple of folks swimming by us (Thankfully it was not me!), but we kept going along. After going through the initial couple of rapids, I was pretty comfortable (and tucked my feet in real tight!).  It was actually pretty calming, paddling in the rain, with the mountains around.

no one fell in! (photo courtesy whitewater challengers)

no one fell in! (photo courtesy whitewater challengers)

2.30pm We were going down about 8 miles of river, and after a couple of hours of rapids and paddling fun, we were drenched and hungry. We made a short stop for our bagged lunch of sandwiches and chips, but quickly got back on the water.

navigating a rapid

navigating a rapid

4pm The remainder of the trip was spent paddling and now navigating rapids like an expert,  watching rafts that were stuck, and taking in the scenery. After almost 4 hours in the water (still in the rain), the shuttle took us back to the camp site.

So, as it turns out, II did not fall into the water. I survived, and had a great time! Mission Accomplished.

(Huge Thank you to Whitewater Challengers for keeping us safe!) 

Things to know:

1.       Don’t let a day of rain interrupt your rafting plans. You WILL get wet anyway, and the rain makes the water levels in the river more fun for rafting! (Whitewater Challengers will let you know if it’s unsafe, and don’t operate during stormy conditions)

2.       WWC offers guided and unguided trips. Most groups choose not to have a guide on the raft, but there are always guides on kayaks to help you through and show you what to do.

3.       You don’t need to know to swim, but if you are not comfortable being around water (which you will be all day!), rafting is probably not for you. (Although, I’d definitely recommend taking a chance – it will be fun, and the guides have your back).  

Thank you to Tiffany for the GoPro pictures! 

Dinner at The ShawneeCraft Brewery – “Beer from here, Food from near”

Experience the best of the Pocono Mountains