What You Should Know About Whitewater Rafting In The Winter

I would like to state for the record that I do not own a Snuggie.
I do love the Snuggie commercial where they are all doing the Macarena while wearing decorative Snuggies, though.  Makes me wanna dance. Seriously.But that’s just because I’m a warm weather fan.  If I had my way, I would look like Kenny on “South Park” for three months.  Many of ACE’s seasonal staff members work at local ski resorts during the winter.  Good for them.  Me? No way, Jose, any day, have to say.

My winters are usually like this:  Somewhere around the end of Gauley Season, I buy my supply of wool socks from the Outfitter’s Store.  I also purchase a new pair of lounge pants to get me through. They usually have a Yuletide theme.  Go ahead and picture that for a sec.

I’ll wait.

I live like an onion in the winter.  In layers.  Long-sleeves, flannel, sweaters.   Rafting in the winter, though?  Not for me.

For you maybe. Not me.  I don’t think the road conditions would have allowed us to get to the river in a bus anyway.

And lets say that we could get a raft to the water (you can).  Why would we want to?  The thought of that cold water hitting my feet like tiny needles is enough to send me to my therapist to up my dosage.

Beth, ACE’s Marketing Director, told me she has kayaked under these conditions and with the right gear you can be totally comfortable. She said she was even too warm at times.  Huh. Last March, after the torrential snow has ceased, we had the first rafting trip of the season.  It was a father and son, rafting the Lower New River with snow on the ground.

I was there when they got off of the river.  They were proud to have been the first rafters of the season.  They were outfitted in dry suits over wet suits topped layered with wool and fleece.  Looked pretty comfy.

For most.  Not me, though.

For me, it’s this:  winter at ACE is about a nice warm cabin with the hot tub bubbling on the deck. I would be willing to venture out to go ATV riding or ride the Zip Line Canopy Tour. Now that the leaves have fallen, I’m curious to see how far into the gorge you can actually see.

But rafting in the winter? You can have it. I will take a dip in a warm, cozy hot tub any time.

What about you?  Ever get out there and get your icicle on?

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  • Dawn

    We rafted the LN on Bridge Day for our 20th anniv in 2009. Air temps were in the low 30′s and they were calling for snow flurries by the afternoon. Since I’m from FL I called ahead to make sure you can raft in the snow,and was assured that all trips go snow or shine. We used space bags for our river clothes so they fit into our carry on luggage and were perfectly warm and comfy on the river wearing: duofold long johns, 2 pairs of wool socks, neoprene booties, wool gloves and beanie, wool sweater, wetsuit, neoprene jacket, and nylon splash jacket… 5 layers!

  • Rick1

    Years of training guides in March I learned a few secrets about cold weather boating… 1) Get a drysuit – expensive, but worth every penny 2) Keep your feet warm if you are a rafter (wool socks are great but neoprene or rubber drysuit booties are best) and 3) the most important… wear a rubber shower cap!!! You lose 45% of your body heat from your head. Layers and core is a must, but don’t forget about your head!

  • Naira

    Rafting in any weather is great! If you are dressed right for the occasion and have enough exciting rapids (like Gauley and New both do) it’s a great ride any day with any weather! And paddle, paddle, paddle not to freeze :-)

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