disclaimer: I was a guest of Columbus CVB and this adventure was part of my hosted stay.
I’m a self-proclaimed wimp. I have no adrenaline junkie tendencies and prefer my feet to always be planted firmly on the ground with few exceptions. I don’t ride roller coasters, I don’t go zip-lining (I’ve tried it, quit halfway through), skiing, nope, skydiving, hell no, you get the idea. That being said, I have NO IDEA what came over me when I said I would give Urban Whitewater Rafting with Whitewater Express a try during my visit to Columbus, GA.
I was going to experience the world’s longest urban whitewater course and one of the top 12 man-made adventures in the world according to USA Today. The great thing about this course is that the morning trips are normally Class II and III rapids and the afternoon trips can run as crazy as Class V rapids. (yikes!)
As you can probably guess we decided to go during the Class II and III rapids timeframe.
I thought “How bad can Class II and III rapids be? This should be fun and not too horribly scary”
Pretty sure the Chattahoochee River said: “Hold my beer!”
URBAN WHITEWATER RAFTING: GETTING IN THE RIVER
At Whitewater Express we checked in, tucked our things in a locker (small fee) and met our rafting guide, Seiver, to get geared up.
Life vest, check.
Safety overview, check.
Bad case of nerves, check.
Into the van and over to the launch point, aka no turning back.
At the launch point we carefully climb into the raft and, since it was only Ruth and me, sit in the very front. Oh. Joy.
URBAN WHITEWATER RAFTING: THE RAPIDS
Seiver assured me that he wouldn’t let me fall out of the raft, Ruth assured me that I am going to have the best time ever. I so wish they both had been right.
The first rapid with a slight drop is immediately after we push off from shore. I’m all “Ok, I got this. Everything is going to be great.”
After that initial rapid it’s fun floating down the river with Uptown Columbus on one side and Alabama on the other side. Really, how cool is it to raft between two states?
URBAN WHITEWATER RAFTING: WHERE I THOUGHT I MIGHT DIE
The tranquility of the calm float was a bit short lived as it wasn’t long before the guide starts filling us in about the upcoming Class II, 6-foot drop rapid.
I’m sorry, did you say a 6-foot drop? (You did read the first paragraph, right? I’m serious about the wimpy me.)
Seiver paddles the raft into an eddy where he continues to explain what is about to happen. Honestly, after the “6-foot drop” statement I may have zoned out some from pure terror. He shares that the raft will go over the waterfall and drop down into the water, pop back up, spin around so that we will be in the waterfall, which will feel like we are underwater but aren’t, and then we’ll shoot out of the rapid and be back on the calm water.
The entire time we’ll be sitting on the bottom of the raft so we don’t fall out. OMG.
NOW, NOW is when the terror sets in.
I politely ask him if he can let me out on the nearby rocks and I’ll make my way down river some and they can pick me back up. He thought I was kidding…I wasn’t.
This is the point where I start to wonder what in the hell I’ve gotten myself into. I also can’t remember if Ruth has Alan’s contact info because I’m quite sure I’m going to die and she needs to know how to get a hold of him.
Ruth asks “Are you ready?”
Me: “No, as in HELL NO, but let’s do this”
Before I’m ready (ha! let’s be honest, I was never going to be ready) I’m slipping into the bottom of the boat and the front of the boat is pointing down and over the fall we go.
URBAN WHITEWATER RAFTING: A LIFE-SAVING TIP
It’s VERY, VERY important to remember to take a big deep breath before going over the waterfall and holding that breath until you shoot out the other side. If you don’t you are going to drink a hella lot of the Chattahoochee River and it’s not going to be pleasant (yes, I speak from experience). When we hit the bottom of the fall and spun into the waterfall it felt like I was drowning. Oh lordy, that was a hard lesson to learn. Remember, ALWAYS hold your breath until you’re through it.
URBAN WHITEWATER RAFTING: THE REST OF THE RIVER
That was a Class II rapid, I had no idea how in the world I would survive the upcoming Class III rapids, but survive I did.The drop wasn’t as extreme with the Class III rapids but there was still a huge wave of water coming for my face. This time I remembered to hold my breath and I locked my feet into the side of the raft so I wouldn’t go flying out.
We hit the wave hard, I don’t inhale any of the river (YAY!), but I do bounce out of my seat and into the bottom of the boat. Trying to get back in my seat might be the most challenging part of this adventure. I’m on a raft, everything is drenched including me so I basically flop around on the bottom of the raft trying to find a footing to get back in my seat. It was quite a slippery situation.
I was told the earlier Class II rapid was the worst and the Class III would be a cakewalk compared to that but I didn’t find that to be the case. It was all pretty intense, in my opinion, except for the easy float on the calm water.
All said there are 6-8 rapids. At one point during the trip, you can jump into the river and float down a lazy river section.
URBAN WHITEWATER RAFTING: WHAT DID I THINK
Am I glad I tried Urban Whitewater Rafting?
Yes, I’m really glad I tried it, but I probably wouldn’t go again.
They say “do something that scares you everyday” I figure this fills the quota for a couple months.
I’ll stick with kayaking calm waters and leave the Urban Whitewater for those after some adrenaline rushes.
Asked if I had fun, my reply is always….I SURVIVED.
The best thing, I never felt like I was in danger (well, except for that waterfall drop but looking back I know that was my fear taking over) and I have to thank Seiver from Whitewater Express for making sure I made it back to shore in one piece.