Friday, June 15, 2018

Rafting, ice cream, and guns

     Our final day of Zip and Splash put us on the French Broad River near Asheville, NC for our last day of rafting. Carbon dating has indicated that the French Broad is one of the oldest rivers in the world. Much like the Pigeon, the section we were rafting has Class III and IV rapids. We arrived at the NOC outpost for the French Broad just after 10:00 this morning and went through the obligatory signing of the waivers and standard safety briefing. We can now quote parts of the safety video and began to chant various passages in unison. After a snarky look from the lead guide, we were fitted with helmets and life jackets before loading aboard the bus for the river.

Trey, Joe, Nick, and Hunter are ready to raft.
     The four boys plotted among themselves when the raft assignments were being decided. They decided that Mr. Williams should ride with another group and only the scoutmaster would accompany them. This was obviously for nefarious purposes. No sooner were we on the water than the boys began to splash with their paddles in an attempt to get us as wet as possible.

One of the other rafts shoots the rapid known as the Maze.

We passed Turtle Rock heading into another rapid.

     When we got to a point in the river where we could swim, the scoutmaster wasted no time in pitching Hunter and Nick into the water before going in behind them. This happened with such haste that we lost one of the paddles, which Joe swam after and retrieved. After we returned to the boat, our efforts to splash one another caused us to hang up on a rock, which required some maneuvering in the raft to free ourselves. We put the guide to so much trouble that we wound up tipping her extra for the frustration.

Using the bottom of a raft as a dining table, we had a nice lunch. 
     As lunch time approached, the raft guides brought us up to a sandy area and fed us lunch. They pulled all sorts of sandwich fixings, crackers, salsa, pickles, cookies, and trail mix for us to eat. After we had eaten every scrap, it was back to the river for the last set of rapids.
The only house left in the town of Stackhouse.
     The take out point was at the former site of a town. In 1960, a flood inundated the town of Stackhouse and swept away most of the structures. A lone house still stands above the river. A sign on the porch, salvaged from the former train station, still reads Stackhouse. Following the ride back to the NOC outpost, we changed clothes and headed out in search of ice cream. A local citizen of the town of Marshall had told our camp staff leader that there was an ice cream bar at the local country store right in front of the gun store. We found that he meant this literally since the ice cream was served from a freezer in front of a wall of guns.
Mr. Williams awaits his order at the ice cream and gun store.
     As befits any good country store, there was a checker board set up ready to be used. This was deja vu for us since the ice cream store from the previous day has also contained a checker board. Joe challenged some of the other scouts in our crew to a game of checkers. Using the same analytical style that he uses for playing chess, Joe easily took out his opponents on both days. 
Game number one was played at Jack the Dipper.

Game two at the ice cream/gun store.
     Following our satisfying snack of gun store ice cream, we piled back in the van to head on to camp. We made one other stop along the west fork of the Little Pigeon to admire the view and dip our feet in the water. Some of the scouts wound up dipping more than their feet and had a wet ride the rest of the way to camp.

     As we get our campsite, and the van, cleaned up, we look forward to a good night's sleep before we return to Auburn on the morrow. It has been a good week of camp and a great adventure trip for both the boys and the leaders. More photos from the day are found at this link.