|Awaiting the start of the swim test in the 50 degree waters of Lake Allen.|
This morning we were on the road to the Nantahala River by 7:30 and were ready to raft by 10:00. Following the obligatory safety briefing and life jacket/helmet fitting, we boarded the bus for the put in point. The name Nantahala comes from the Cherokee language and is translated to mean "land of the noon day sun." Because the river runs through a steep valley, the sun does not really warm the river. Additionally, the water is released from the base of a dam, which means the water is even colder. Our swim test in Lake Allen seemed warm in comparison. The warmer air above the river left a cloud of vapor hanging in the air as we began our trip down the river.
The float trip was mostly uneventful despite the relative youth of our raft guide, Andrew. He graduated from high school only three weeks ago and we were the first group he had guided on the river without the help of an instructor. He was very knowledgable however, and gave us a great ride through the rapids. We asked him what would happen if someone had an "out of boat experience" and he told us that no one had ever fallen out of a raft with him. As if to test his abilities, Nick went over the side as we headed through the class III rapid at Nantahala Falls. Andrew responded well to the challenge of rescuing Nick but he seemed to forget he was also steering the raft and we made several 360s and bumped across several rocks before Nick was unceremoniously hauled back into the boat dripping wet.
|A soaking wet Nick emerges from the river at the end of the trip|