Rafting and whitewater rafting are recreational outdoor activities which use an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other body of water. This is often done on whitewater or different degrees of rough water. Dealing with risk is often a part of the experience.
This activity as an adventure sport has become popular since the 1950s, if not earlier, evolving from individuals paddling 10 feet (3.0 m) to 14 feet (4.3 m) rafts with double-bladed paddles or oars to multi-person rafts propelled by single-bladed paddles and steered by a person at the stern, or by the use of oars.
Rafting on certain sections of rivers is considered an extreme sport and can be fatal, while other sections are not so extreme or difficult. Rafting is also a competitive sport practiced around the world which culminates in a world rafting championship event between the participating nations. The International Rafting Federation, often referred to as the IRF, is the worldwide body which oversees all aspects of the sport.
Rafting equipment has continuously evolved and developed significantly from old rubber WW II era military surplus rafts. Modern whitewater rafts are typically made with advanced nylon or Kevlar infused plastics like PVC or urethane; though many of the more entry-level low-cost manufacturers still use a glued rubber. Plastic is generally more durable, longer-lasting, and just as easy to repair compared to older rubber rafts.
Paddles and oars are the typical means of propulsion for rafts and come in many sizes and varieties with specific river conditions in mind.
Paddles are a combination of layered wood, plastic, aluminium, carbon fiber, or other advanced composites. There are many types and combinations of these materials with lower-end entry-level paddles being composed of cheap aluminum and plastic. Higher-end models are constructed of high-end composites and mostly utilized by professional rafting guides, raft racers, and expedition paddlers.
The basic paddle design for rafting consists of 3 parts:
Paddles are typically utilized by rafters in smaller and lower volume rivers where rocks and other hazards can damage larger oars. Paddles are typically used by guests on commercial trips as well since it is seen as a more engaging way to enjoy the river trip. When paddles are used in a raft it is referred to as "paddling" or "paddle guiding".
Oars are commonly made from the same materials as paddles. Wood, plastic, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Oars are designed for several different rivers with sightly different blade shapes built to handle varying river conditions. Wooden oars are typically built as one solid piece to help retain strength and resilience of the oar while it is strained under a load. Composite or metallic oars typically are made in 3 parts:
All of these parts are interchangeable and can be upgraded and altered in many ways to make rowing more enjoyable.Oars are generally used on wider flatter rivers of higher volume to facilitate moving more efficiently across long slow-moving pools, though anglers will often use shorter oars on smaller rafts in low volume rivers to help them maintain an advantageous upstream position while anglers cast from the raft. When a raft utilizes oars it is called "rowing" though many people typically incorrectly refer to this as "oaring" or "oar framing", however, these terms are incorrect and often suggest inexperience when used in conversation with members of the rafting community. Oars typically use one of 2 systems to attach to the boat, but in either case, they interface with the boat through a large metallic frame strapped to the boat called an "oar frame". Oars connect to the frame by either a pin and clip system or a system called oarlocks. Either system connects to the frame via oar towers on either side of the frame.
Pins are referred to as "thole pins" or "oar pins". A large metal clip attaches to the oar and clips onto the pin. The top of the pin has a rubber or plastic stopper that prevents the oar from slipping over the top of the pin. The bottom of the pin connects to an oar tower designed to hold the pin in place. This system is an older system though it is useful for certain types of river running namely big, dangerous Class 5 rivers that require your oars to stay in place as much as possible.
Oarlocks or locks are a more common form of attachment for oars as they allow the rower to "feather" the oar back and forth as they row making it easier on the person using the oars to continue downstream. Oarlocks look like a pin topped with a U-shaped metal flange. The oars slide into the gap between the U-shaped metal pieces and can be held in place with a plastic stopper called an oarlock. The oarlock allows the oar to maintain its position on the oar at a correct length for rowing.
Whitewater rafting can be traced back to 1811 when the first recorded attempt to navigate the Snake River in Wyoming was planned. With no training, experience, or proper equipment, the river was found to be too difficult and dangerous. Hence, it was given the nickname "Mad River". On June 9, 1940, Clyde Smith lead a successful trip through the Snake River Canyon.
Otherwise known as the International Scale of River Difficulty, below are the six grades of difficulty in white water rafting. They range from simple to very dangerous and potential death or serious injuries.
Class 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill level: Very basic)
Class 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering. (Skill level: Basic paddling skill)
Class 3: Small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill level: Some experience in rafting)
Class 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill level: Exceptional rafting experience)
Class 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering. (Skill level: Full mastery of rafting)
Class 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous that they are effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes. (Skill level: Full mastery of rafting, and even then it may not be safe)
The overall risk level on a rafting trip using proper precautions is low.Thousands of people safely enjoy rafting trips every year.
Like most outdoor sports, rafting, in general, has become safer over the years. Expertise in the sport has increased, and equipment has become more specialized and improved in quality. As a result, the difficulty rating of most river runs has changed. A classic example is the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, which historically had a reputation far exceeding its actual safety statistics. Today the Grand Canyon sees hundreds of safe rafting trips by both do it yourself rafters and commercial river concessionaires.
Rafting companies generally require customers to sign waiver forms indicating understanding and acceptance of potential serious risks. Both do-it-yourself and commercial rafting trips often begin with safety presentations to educate rafting participants about problems that may arise. Depending on the area, safety regulations covering rafting, both for the general do-it-yourself public as well as commercial operators, may exist in legislation. These range from the mandatory wearing of lifejackets, carrying certain equipment such as whistles and throwable flotation devices, to certification of commercial outfitters and their employees.
It is generally advisable to discuss safety measures with a commercial rafting operator before signing on for that type of trip. The required equipment needed is essential information to be considered.
Risks in white water rafting stem from both environmental dangers and from improper behavior. Certain features on rivers are inherently unsafe and have remained consistently so. These would include ‘keeper hydraulics’, ‘strainers’ (e.g. fallen trees), dams (especially low-head dams, which tend to produce river-wide keeper hydraulics), undercut rocks, and of course dangerously high waterfalls. Even in safe areas, moving water can always present risks—such as when a swimmer attempts to stand up on a rocky riverbed in strong current, risking foot entrapment. Irresponsible behavior related to rafting while intoxicated has also contributed to many accidents.
Typical rafting injuries include trauma from striking an object, traumatic stress from the interaction of the paddler’s positioning and equipment and the force of the water, overuse injuries, submersion/environmental injuries, and non-environmental injuries due to undisclosed medical conditions (such as heart problems).Studies have shown that injury rates in rafting are relatively low, though they may be skewed due to a large number of unreported incidents. Fatalities are rare in both commercial and do-it-yourself rafting. Meta-analyses have calculated that fatalities ranged between 0.55 - 0.86% per 100,000 user days.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2013)
Like all outdoor activities, rafting must balance its use of nature with the conservation of rivers as a natural resource and habitat. Because of these issues, some rivers now have regulations restricting the annual seasons and daily operating times or numbers of rafters.
Conflicts have arisen when commercial rafting operators, often in co-operation with municipalities and tourism associations, alter the riverbed by dredging and/or blasting in order to eliminate safety hazards or create more interesting whitewater features in the river. Environmentalists argue that this may have negative impacts to riparian and aquatic ecosystems, while proponents claim these measures are usually only temporary since a riverbed is naturally subject to permanent changes during large floods and other events. Another conflict involves the distribution of scarce river permits to either the do-it-yourself public or commercial rafting companies.
Rafting by do-it-yourself rafters and commercial rafting companies contributes to the economy of many regions which in turn may contribute to the protection of rivers from hydroelectric power generation, diversion for irrigation, and other development. Additionally, white water rafting trips can promote environmentalism. Multi-day rafting trips by do-it-yourself rafters and commercial rafting companies through the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System have the potential to develop environmental stewardship and general environmental behavior. Studies suggest that environmental efficacy increases when there is an increase in the length of the trip, daily immersion, and the amount of resource education by trip participants.
Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving across water. It is distinguished from canoeing by the sitting position of the paddler and the number of blades on the paddle. A kayak is a low-to-the-water, canoe-like boat in which the paddler sits facing forward, legs in front, using a double-bladed paddle to pull front-to-back on one side and then the other in rotation. Most kayaks have closed decks, although sit-on-top and inflatable kayaks are growing in popularity as well.
Whitewater forms in a rapid context, in particular, when a river's gradient changes enough to generate so much turbulence that air is trapped within the water. This forms an unstable current that froths, making the water appear opaque and white.
Whitewater kayaking is a recreational outdoor activity which uses a kayak to navigate a river or other body of whitewater or rough water.
The Illinois River is a tributary, about 56 miles (90 km) long, of the Rogue River in the U.S. state of Oregon. It drains part of the Klamath Mountains in northern California and southwestern Oregon. The river's main stem begins at the confluence of its east and west forks near Cave Junction in southern Josephine County. Its drainage basin includes Sucker Creek, which rises in the Red Buttes Wilderness, near Whiskey Peak on the California state line. The main stem flows generally northwest in a winding course past Kerby and through the Siskiyou National Forest and Kalmiopsis Wilderness. It joins the Rogue River from the south at Agness on the Curry–Josephine county line, 27 miles (43 km) from the Pacific Ocean.
The Kicking Horse River is in the Canadian Rockies of southeastern British Columbia, Canada. The river was named in 1858, when James Hector, a member of the Palliser Expedition, reported being kicked by his packhorse while exploring the river. Hector named the river and the associated pass as a result of the incident. The Kicking Horse Pass, which connects through the Rockies to the valley of the Bow River, was the route through the mountains subsequently taken by the Canadian Pacific Railway when it was constructed during the 1880s. The railway's Big Hill and associated Spiral Tunnels are in the Kicking Horse valley and were necessitated by the steep rate of descent of the river and its valley.
Canoe freestyle is a discipline of whitewater kayaking or canoeing where people perform various technical moves in one place, as opposed to downriver whitewater canoeing or kayaking where the objective is to travel the length of a section of river. Specialised canoes or kayaks (boats) known as playboats are often used, but any boat can be used for playing. The moves and tricks are often similar to those performed by snowboarders, surfers or skaters, where the athlete completes spins, flips, turns, etc. With modern playboats it is possible to get the kayak and the paddler completely airborne while performing tricks. The competitive side of playboating is known as freestyle kayaking.
Gore Canyon is a short isolated canyon on the upper Colorado River in southwestern Grand County, Colorado in the United States. The steep and rugged canyon, approximately 3 miles (5 km) long, was carved by the river as it passed the northern end of the Gore Range southwest of Kremmling. The Colorado descends from approximately 7,300 ft (2,200 m) to approximately 7,000 ft (2,100 m) over the length of the canyon. The steep walls ascend approximately 1,000 ft (300 m) on either side. The canyon effectively marks the southwestern end of the Middle Park basin in north central Colorado.
Tubing is a recreational activity where an individual rides on top of an inner tube, either on water, snow, or through the air. The tubes themselves are also known as "donuts" or "biscuits" due to their shape.
The international scale of river difficulty is an American system used to rate the difficulty of navigating a stretch of river, or a single rapid. The scale was created by the American Whitewater Association to evaluate rivers throughout the world, hence international in the title. It should not be confused with the internationally used whitewater scale, which is published and adapted by a committee of the International Canoe Federation (ICF). The grade reflects the technical difficulty and skill level required associated with the section of river. The scale is of use to various water sports and activities, such as rafting, riverboarding, whitewater canoeing, stand up paddle surfing, and whitewater kayaking.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) is an outdoor recreation and athletic training facility for ice skating, whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking which opened to the public on November 4, 2006. The Center is located in Charlotte, North Carolina on approximately 1,300 acres (530 ha) of land adjacent to the Catawba River, with more than 45 miles (72 km) of developed trail.
Surf kayaking is the sport, technique, and equipment, used in surfing ocean waves with kayaks. Surf kayaking has many similarities to surf board surfing, but with boats designed for use in surf zones, and with a paddle. A number of kayak designs are used, but all are aimed at better using the waves to propel the craft.
The Dead River, sometimes called the West Branch, is a 42.6-mile-long (68.6 km) river in central Maine in the United States. Its source is Flagstaff Lake, where its two main tributaries, South Branch Dead River and North Branch Dead River, join. It flows generally east to join the Kennebec River at The Forks, Maine.
Creeking is a branch of canoeing and kayaking that involves descending very steep low-volume whitewater. It is usually performed in specialized canoes and kayaks specifically designed to withstand the extreme whitewater environment in which the activity occurs. In addition, the canoes and kayaks give the paddler improved performance and maneuverability needed to avoid river obstacles.
Packraft and trail boat are colloquial terms for a small, portable inflatable boat designed for use in all bodies of water, including technical whitewater and ocean bays and fjords. A packraft is designed to be light enough to be carried for extended distances. Along with its propulsion system and safety equipment the entire package is designed to be light and compact enough for an individual to negotiate rough terrain while carrying the rafting equipment together with supplies, shelter, and other survival or backcountry equipment. Modern packrafts vary from inexpensive vinyl boats lacking durability to sturdy craft costing over US $1,000. Most weigh less than 4 kg (9 lbs) and usually carry a single passenger. The most popular propulsion systems involve a kayak paddle that breaks down into two to five pieces. Most often they are paddled from a sitting position, although kneeling can be advantageous in some situations.
A raft guide is a trained professional capable of leading commercial white water rafting trips. Most raft guides are employed by commercial outfitters who run either multi or single day trips.
Paddling with regard to watercraft is the act of manually propelling a boat using a paddle. The paddle, which consists of one or two blades joined to a shaft, is also used to steer the vessel. The paddle is not connected to the boat.
Whitewater canoeing is the sport of paddling a canoe on a moving body of water, typically a whitewater river. Whitewater canoeing can range from simple, carefree gently moving water, to demanding, dangerous whitewater. River rapids are graded like ski runs according to the difficulty, danger or severity of the rapid. Whitewater grades range from I or 1 to VI or 6. Grade/Class I can be described as slightly moving water with ripples. Grade/Class VI can be described as severe or almost unrunnable whitewater, such as Niagara Falls.
The following outline is provided as an overview of canoeing and kayaking:
Nantahala Township is located in North Carolina in the part of Macon County which is west of Wayah Gap. It has a population of 1,711. "Nantahala" is a Cherokee word which means "Land of the Noonday Sun." The area fits its name because in a few spots, the sun's rays only reaches the floors of the Nantahala National Forest when it is directly overhead during the middle of the day.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rafting .|