Posted by: Colorado Whitewater Rafting
Rafting guides are frequently surprised to find guests that have no idea what is expected of them, including those who assume that, having paid a good $45 for the trip, they should not have to paddle. Guess what, though: no matter what, you WILL have to paddle. Hey, that's part of the allure of Colorado river rafting. The whole "take-charge" attitude is what makes river rafting an exciting sport.
So what exactly is expected of you on the river? Here goes:
- You must show up sober and stay sober. Rafting outfitters will not allow (or at least should not allow) you on the water if you show up drunk or high.
- There really isn't any need for special training at Home
- Prior to your expedition. So before you embark on this extreme sport, you can maintain your standard daily routine of Hungry Man microwave dinners and I Love Lucy reruns on TV Land. Of course, at the end of a long day of running rapids, you will very likely be sore in many unusual places, but that's just one more reason to sign up for a massage afterwards, should it be a service your outfitter (or significant other) provides. One note: though many outfitters may not require that you know how to swim, it sure is a lot safer. It IS a river.
- You should advise your guides (in private, of course) of any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries that may affect your performance. These include heart conditions, back and neck (spinal) injuries, diabetes, and epilepsy. Although such a condition may never play out during the expedition, it's always a good idea to make your guides aware of it.
- You are expected to be a good team player; conversely, this means you want to pick adequate members to accompany you in your raft. Most rafts are designed to accommodate four or five passengers, so choose three or four friends whom you deem capable, competent and level-headed. (Of course, you can sign up as an individual, but you will wind up sharing a raft with strangers.)
- Pay close attention during the tutorial prior to your expedition. The most common error most river rafters encounter is the counter-intuitive nature of paddling: to turn right, you paddle with the left oar, and vice versa. Often, it helps to elect a leader, either someone with prior experience or else a natural born leader.
- Your attire is important. If you are going in the spring or fall, make sure to have wool socks and possibly a wool pullover sweater. Wool pulls water away from your skin to the surface of your clothing and prevents excessive loss of body heat. A windbreaker and wool cap may also help retain body heat. In the spring, you will most likely be provided a mandatory wet suit like those worn by surfers. Spring rains and melting winter snow combine to make very cold water in March, April and even May. Don't be a diva just because your wetsuit clashes with your nail polish color; odds are that without that cumbersome looking thing, you're going to be blue all over. Almost all of the Colorado river rafting companies/outfitters will provide a wetsuit to rent on your trip.
In the summer time, shorts, cut-offs, bathing suits or swim trunks are all acceptable, as are T-shirts and tank tops. Bear in mind, however, that in summer time the rapids are also much lower and therefore less exciting. Also, summer sun means a need for a waterproof sunscreen.