Monday, February 20, 2017
White Water Rafting
Monday, February 20, 2017
A family favorite, great for all ages, is the chance to tube or raft down one of Jamaica’s rivers. High in the hills above Ocho Rios, the water of the mountainous White River is cool and as clear as gin. Guides sing Bob Marley songs as you flow with the slow-moving current. Or listen to the high-pitched call of the yellow banana quit bird and peer out at the green mosaic of ferns, banana trees, and thickets of bamboo that climb the banks of this sinuous waterway like ivy climbs a wall. For a break, you dine on jerk chicken at picnic tables next to the riverbank. A perfect outing and the ideal breakaway from an all-inclusive resort or cruise. As you can see from the big smile plastered on my face.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
We woke early on the second day of our trip, packed up our belongings, and biked back to our car parked near the visitors center of Parc national de la Pointe-Taillon. Less than a 45-minute drive later, we were on the southeastern shores of Lac-Saint-Jean ready to stand-up paddleboard once the outfitter O’Soleil opened up shop at 9 am. Offering paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes, O’Soleil is located on an ideal spot on a placid river that can either lead inland or to the expansive waters of that 45-kilometer long by 35-kilometer wide lake called Lac-Saint-Jean. We paddled on the serene river under bridges and past marinas lined with boats to steady our balance and stroke. Then off we went on a wondrous stretch of water, hemmed in by barrier beaches. Soon we were feeling the chop of this massive inland sea as a steady stream of boats filed out to the lake. O’Soleil also rents bikes to sample a stretch of the Véloroute des Bleuets, the 256-kilometer bike trail that lines the shoreline of Lac-Saint-Jean. The 10 km ride past the charming town of Metabetchouan (stop for sublime chocolates at the small artisanal store, Rose Élisabeth) to Desbiens is one of the finest parts of the bike trail.
Desbiens is where we would start our second adventure of the day, a whitewater rafting trip down the Metabetchouan River with H2O Expeditions. Owner Sylvain Alarie has rafted down many of the finest rivers in the world like the Colorado, but he always returns to his native Quebec rivers. After spending the afternoon with him on an exhilarating run down the Class III and IV rapids of the Metabetchouan, it’s easy to understand why he comes back. Joined by my buddy, Jeff, and a contingent of six students from China studying alloy engineering at the nearby university in Saguenay, we were in for a treat. The clean waters of the river slice through cavernous walls where tall pines cling to the hillside. A master navigator, Sylvain found the perfect line to attack the most rip-roaring rapids as we shrieked with joy each time the raft rolled up and we met the next drenching wave. It was a thrill ride through exquisite scenery I won’t soon forget.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Every weekend now through May 22nd, you can go on a 3-hour guided whitewater rafting trip on the Concord River, just north of Boston. Zoar Outdoor, known for their rafting trips down the Deerfield River in central Mass, is leading trips on the Concord for ages 14 and up. For the price of $83, you can rip through three major class III and IV rapids—Twisted Sister, Three Beauties, and Middlesex Dam. Zoar Outdoor supplies all gear. All you have to do is show up at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center and get ready to scream.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
One glance down at Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls tumbling into a churn of froth at the mouth of the Zambezi River and you’ll quickly understand how the Zambezi earned its reputation as the whitewater rafter’s ultimate conquest. Victoria is twice as high and wide as Niagara, and this being Africa, there are no railings. Shearwater, Zimbabwe’s largest adventure tour operator and the first outfitter to raft the Zambezi in 1985, starts their descent of the Zambezi at a spot just below the falls. You’ll travel the toughest 68 miles of this 1,700-mile river in an exhilarating blur of Class V (the most challenging) rapids. Along the way, between bouncing off boulders, you’ll meet six-feet-long crocodiles and those cute, cuddly hippos. Pat their heads and you’ll soon realize why the hippo kills as many people in Africa as the next five animals combined. Cost of the 2 ½-day jaunt is $575 including all food and equipment.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
With the deluge of snow and rain in the Northwest thanks to El Nino, whitewater rafting outfitters are already predicting this could be a banner year due to high water levels. ROW Adventures, once named the world’s #1 Tour Operator by Travel & Leisure magazine, offers 5 and 6-day jaunts on Idaho’s legendary Snake River including all food, beer, wine, guides, rafts, and full-service camping. Cruise through Hells Canyon on Class III and IV rapids on a rip-roaring ride through the deepest river gorge in North America. This is not the Colorado River, where you freeze your butt off in the water. Temps on the Snake average a perfect 70 degrees in summer. Or sample the Salmon River, one of the original rivers in the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Middle Fork of the Salmon boasts more than a hundred rapids in as many miles. What this means is a rip-roaring ride through narrow canyon walls, with glimpses of bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain elk on the shores and eagles and ospreys flying overhead. Once you reach land, you can hike up side canyons, soak in natural hot springs, fish to your heart’s content, or use the time to gather your thoughts and simply breathe.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
A family favorite, great for all ages, is the chance to tube or raft down one of Jamaica’s rivers. High in the hills above Ocho Rios, the water of the mountainous White River is cool and as clear as gin. Guides sing Bob Marley songs as you flow with the slow-moving current. Or listen to the high-pitched call of the yellow banana quit bird and peer out at the green mosaic of ferns, banana trees, and thickets of bamboo that climb the banks of this sinuous waterway like ivy climbs a wall. For a break, you dine on jerk chicken at picnic tables next to the riverbank. A perfect outing and the ideal breakaway from an all-inclusive resort or cruise.
Friday, March 06, 2015
It’s a long drive on logging roads to reach the Spencer Rips put-in on the Dead River, but once there, be prepared for a glorious run on the longest stretch of continuous whitewater in New England. The river churns along 16 miles of almost nonstop Class III and IV rapids, enhanced by 8 dam releases from May through October. There are no bridges, roads, or other signs of civilization until the end—just a rip-roaring ride through big water on rapids with names like Minefield, Humpty Dumpty, and Big Poplar Falls. Sign up for one of the 8 thrilling days of rafting with reputable Maine outfitter, Northern Outdoors.
Thursday, March 05, 2015
Vermont’s best whitewater run can be a zoo during the two days a year (the end of April and September) when the Army Corp of Engineers release the waters of the Ball Mountain Dam. The rest of the year, it can get a little dry, but it’s still a scenic run though the Green Mountain with far less congestion. The river used to host national kayaking championship races. The upper reaches are runnable only by experienced paddlers with solid Class III skills, yet the stream widens and slows down as you head towards the Connecticut River, allowing novice kayakers to do their thing. Good swimming holes and fishing are found at various points all along the West, including Jamaica State Park, about 2.5 miles down the river from the dam. Zoar Outdoor offers trips on the West River for rafters. Cost ranges from $88 to $100.
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Five hours west of Washington, DC, in the heart of West Virginia, families go whitewater rafting on West Virginia’s New River. Bordered on both shores by lush oak, hickory, and black cherry trees, this Class III-IV waterway cuts through a gorge of sandstone, shale, and coal, bumping into rapids with names like Surprise and Greyhound Bus Stopper. Minimum age is 10 years old. The truly intrepid rafter should take their chances on West Virginia’s Upper Gauley. This adrenaline-pumping Class V run drops 650 feet over a twenty-seven mile course. Located in Beckley, West Virginia, on the New River Gorge, Class VI has been taking shrieking families down the rivers of West Virginia since 1978. They also offer canopy tours and lodging in cabins.
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
This coming spring, due to excessive snowfall these past three months, New Englanders are blessed with more water in our backyard than we’ve had in years. “This May proves to be one of our best yet,” says Bruce Lessels, co-owner of the rafting outfitter, Zoar Outdoor in Charlemont, Massachusetts. Many of the whitewater rivers, like the Deerfield that Zoar Outdoor runs, gain their momentum from dam releases at power plants. The more water these plants have in their reservoirs from snow and rain, the more water you have to surge over rapids in a raft or kayak. Raft Zoar Outdoor’s most popular trip, the Zoar Gap. Minimum age is 7 and rates range from $69-$97 depending on age. Their highly regarded white-water kayaking school is also one of the best places to learn the sport in the northeast.