July 11, 2012

NC Recap–Day 2


Two words for day 2:


We headed about an hour and ten minutes north from Hendersonville, NC to Erwin, TN for our whitewater rafting extravaganza on the Nolichucky River Gorge.  Our half day package though USA Raft included Class III-IV rapids.

Half of our group had never been rafting before and we were all so excited for the adventure.




Upon arriving we lathered up with sunscreen, scarfed down our lunch (Subway) and got our gear (life vest, helmet and paddle).



JD in “the zone”.




After a 45 minute bus ride to the launch point we met up with our guide, Moses, and got started.  He was very cool and was so excited to have excited rafters on his boat.  Because our group was large we had a boat all to ourselves which added to the “fun-ness” (if that is even a word) of our experience.




We practiced a bit on land first and then hit the open water!




When we started the weather was beautiful.  The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky … until later …




One of the funniest/scariest moments for me on our trip happened about 30 minutes into our rafting experience.  I was seated at the back of the boat near Moses (our guide).  After maneuvering through one of the rapids I heard him screaming (and I do mean screaming) “Bad snake!  Bad snake!”. 

I thought it was just a gnarly rafting term that guides use to describe rapids until I turned around…there was in fact a very bad snake, a water moccasin, that Moses and I were VERY close to.  As I turned around and saw it, I freaked a little and watched as it started striking at Moses’ paddle as he was trying to get us away from the rock (you can see the splash spot on the rock where our raft was right in front of the snake).

Thank goodness the current was fast and we were rushed away pretty quickly.  Needless to say, Moses was a bit embarrassed to have publicly shared his fear of snakes, as he said he was screaming like a girl, but it made for a good laugh later.






Still sunny – but not for long!




The rafting experience took us through two states and national forests (Pisgah and Cherokee).  We spent our first seven miles rafting through North Carolina and ended our last two miles in the Tennessee. 

The views were breathtaking throughout the entire ride.




We did get a chance to stretch out our sea legs about half way through our journey.  The water levels were too low to go through a certain section of the river with a full raft, so our guides took the boats solo while we went on a 1/4 mile hike though the woods…luckily no “bad snakes” were spotted in the woods.


North Carolina6




After getting back into our rafts, we headed to the break spot for some swimming, snacking and refueling with granola bars and water.







While on our break, the weather started to turn on us.  The sky was turning BLACK and the wind started whipping around the bend.  The guides made the decision to get back in our rafts and conquer the storm and the rest of the journey head on…literally.





The USA Raft rafting experience goes on rain or shine, so the guides weren’t worried about it (they said the lightning would strike the top of the mountain before us), but I think we were all a little anxious at first when we felt the pelting rain and saw the lighting while floating in the middle of nowhere! 

The strong wind and rain definitely made the rest of the day an extreme adventure (trees were down everywhere)…but it also made it a lot more fun!




These pictures really don’t do the storm justice, but take my word for it, it was bad!

After the worst of it was over we took a break and played around in the water some more, which actually felt so much warmer than the rain water.  We were all freezing!




Upon making it back to the base camp (who had lost power during the storm) safe and sound we changed, still in the middle of a downpour, and headed home for dinner.  After 5 hours of rafting, we were starving!

The reward?



Wanting to try out another local Hendersonville favorite upon our return into town (again, reading reviews on Urbanspoon and Trip Advisor) we settled on Sol Y Luna Cal-Mex Grill & Bar.

We feasted on complimentary chips, salsa and bean dip, and ordered plenty of margaritas, gigantic burritos, tacos and fajitas.  This dinner was delicious and definitely well earned!




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