August 03, 2005


Sunday morning we were up early in order to be back in Leavenworth to go river rafting with River Riders. Originally, we were slated to all be in a river raft. The river, however, is at its low point right now. Plus, the mild winter didn't provide much run-off water. So the option of taking inflatable river kayaks was given and we four took the bait. Granted, there were still folks who opted for the raft, but the kayaks afforded us some freedom and perhaps a bit more excitment. Definitely more work but terribly fun.

All of us were newbies. The guides refer to kayakers in their charge as "duckies." As newbies, I think we were all relieved that the water was very tame. Even the "rapids" we ran later were perfect for first-timers. Wet suits were available but optional. I just wore a T-shirt and shorts. Some folks sported bathing suits under clothes, not under clothes, others were dressed like me. River Riders provided water booties if you didn't have a water shoe that strapped around your ankle. My
Keens were the perfect gear. River Riders also provided the required helmets (according to mine I was "Moon Doggie") and life vests. The weather in Leavenworth was bright and sunny and 100 degrees of bone dry heat. Pretty toasty once the life vest and helmet was attached to you. I applied sunscreen three times in three hours just to be safe. It paid off. I'm toasty but not burned.

Most of the three mile ride down the Wenatchee River was simply floating with easy paddling. Having never operated a kayak, I was admittedly nervous as we "put in" and began traveling. But I quickly got the hang of it, relaxed, and enjoyed. Plenty of beautiful mountains, trees, birds. And lots of
turkey vultures, the primary avian scavenger of NorthAmerica. I love all raptors, including the unsightly turkey vulture. One line of defense for the turkey vulture is to puke on their would-be attackers. Pretty effective I'm sure.

As for "shooting the rapids," it wasn't scary. Again, the water was pretty tame. But working your way through a series of rocks and bubbling water is a hell of alot of work! Getting stuck on a rock or a large flat area of rock is a given in low water. At one point I was half out of the kayak pulling it along to get going again. Just part of the fun I suppose. Just floating along enjoying the water and the scenary was more fun. I suppose if we were to ever go on a raft, we would want rougher water for the thrill of it. But the easy flowing river was perfect for a newbie kayaker. The high heat lead me to splash myself plenty, hang my feet over the sides, and dribble water down through my helmet. Next time we take water bottles. Unfortunately, the heat also contributed to the forest fire we could easily see burning on
Dirty Face Mountain once back at River Riders for the cook-out.

About 30 minutes from the end of the ride we all stopped for a snack. We dragged out the boats and the lady running the raft unloaded fresh fruit, cookies, and a water cooler. We hung out here for a while, some people swam. When we returned to River Riders there was a cook-out. Burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and Garden Burgers, all the sides and more fresh fruit. It was a really fun experience and I feel reasonably priced at $55. We will definitely do it again.

I brought along a waterproof disposable. The shots are OK for proof that I was there but certainly not high quality. But they'll do for the blog.

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