Dave has already filled you in, for the most part, on some of the most exciting events of our vacation thus far. As I write, he is looking at a brochure for some whitewater rafting on the Shenandoah River (which is near our current campground in Harrisonburg, VA). He's looking at the map and smirking as he reads about the various rapids and their ratings: I, I, II, I, etc. Having just completed two legs of the Gauley River, he is not the least bit interested in doing a gentle float down any river. As he says, he's not interested in doing anything less than lots of class IV, V and V+ rapids now. And you know what? I agree with him. We both want more rip-roaring challenging runs. We're already talking about checking out the Colorado River next spring. No, not the 21-day run - just a day (or maybe two).
On the evening before we went rafting, we took a two-hour horse ride in the mountains of West Virginia. This took us deep into the forest and across a number of ridges that overlooked some amazing countryside. The photos below give you some idea of what we experienced. It was really interesting to view the same countryside from the highest points from horseback and the depths of the riverbed on a raft. What a contrast in persepectives!
Having experienced horseback riding and whitewater rafting back-to-back, I've decided that rafting is definitely my preference. You can keep the saddle, just give me a paddle.
As Dave mentioned in one of his posts, we both went overboard during our rafting trip. Dave's two falls won him the most Frequent Swimmer Miles for our raft. His first tumble was actually rather nasty, as he was plunged into an eddy called, The Toilet Bowl. He probably was underwater for about half a minute. I kept looking into the swirling current and wondering, "Where is he?" Man, was I relieved when I finally spotted him thirty yards or so downstream.
One of the interesting things we did, several times, was to paddle upstream back into a rapid we had just run so that we could catch the wave and "surf." It was really pretty cool. Once we got on top of the wave, we put our paddles on the floor, grabbed the chicken lines and held on for dear life as the wave continually bounced us up and down and overflowed into the raft a few times. If you haven't done it, you're probably thinking it's pretty insane to get through a rapid, then voluntarily re-enter it. The payoff, however, is that the sensation of surfing a rapid is much different than that of running it.
The photos below are pretty self-explanatory - all taken in West Virginia. The final one was taken as my horse walked along an overlook. The river below is the New River, which borders the ACE Adventure Complex. This one is not as challenging as the Gauley, but it's still a pretty good rafting destination.