At my age whitewater rafting should be a spectator sport

While on vacation at our Bearfoot Hideaway cabin in the mountains of North Carolina this summer, we decided to take a whitewater rafting excursion. It has been a particularly dry summer, and we were afraid that the water levels would be too low for the rafting trip.

After a few phone calls to the rafting companies, we were talked into renting “FUNYAKS” instead of going on the 10 man rafts. These are individual kayak shaped rafts. They are the same durability and material as a raft, just for a single person. (Do you think we are crazy yet?)

What I failed to realize is that if I am alone in a raft, I have to paddle the entire time! This was not a huge challenge for the younger, fitter people in the group. We also had a few in the group decline the funyaks, so they rode in a normal raft. There were about 30 people in total, not all our family.

The rafting trip started off very exciting, we were taking class 4 rapids in these individual crafts! Being spun around and pelted with rushing water as we went over 5 – 6 foot waterfalls was a great thrill! I was definitely having a GREAT TIME!

About a half hour into the trip, I realized full well why we were talked into funyaks originally. The river was pretty low! What this meant was that there were many places where the rocks were too close to the surface for a 10 man raft to easily get through. Being in a funyak, we were able to fit through narrower spaces than the rafts. HOWEVER — WE HAD TO DO OUR OWN STEERING, sometimes against the rushing currents!!!

The hardest part of the trip was getting OFF the rocks that we got stuck on! Getting out of the boat was not an option because the river was rushing and the rocks were very, very slippery! So here was a bunch of 50 somethings JIGGLING our way off THOUSANDS of rocks in the Upper Nolichucky River!

Because the river was so low, it was also tremendously slow! So a 10 mile run, which would have been about 5 hours turned into an TEN HOUR trip.

There were many times I was almost in tears and ready to give up. Giving up meant that I would have been stranded in the middle of a river in the mountains of Tennessee. Some of the other people were threatening to sue the rafting company! If I was not in such a cloud of pain and exhaustion I would have found it quite amusing. As dark approached, everyone started to panic. Luckily the guides were able to shorten the trip, and we took out a few miles sooner than normal.

Getting back to the rafting hut is a story for another time!

Who put the word FUN in funyak?