Whitewater Rafting, Old School Style

If you’re ever lucky enough to run the river with an old timer, you’re in for a treat.

maybe the best rafting t-shirt ever

Not just because you get to make jokes about old raft guides (which is always fun), but you get to learn a lot about the river, too.  It’s definitely something to think about when you book a whitewater raft trip for the New River Gorge.

An old time raft guide is going to tell you about a bunch of unbelievable stuff on your trip.  Here’s a taste:

  • Old rafts.  Back in the day, the rafts didn’t get rid of the water automatically like they do now, using what’s called a “self-bailing” floor.  All the guides used to have to bring big buckets along, and you got to bail the water out yourself.  No extra charge.
  • Put-ins and take-outs.  Depending on who you talk to, a day trip down the New River used to start, well, somewhere near the Virginia border and end in Cincinnati.  To get the real story, you’ve got to go rafting with a real old timer.
  • Helmets.  Believe it or not, there was a time when the old brain bucket wasn’t a staple on the river.  There are some different theories among the guides (imagine!), but the prevailing wisdom goes that we all started wearing them to protect us from each other.
  • Guides. There was a time when all of the rafts were double-guided down through the rapids.  And you thought the jokes were corny with one guide in the boat …

Everyone, this is seriously just the tip of the iceberg.  Old time raft guides will tell you stories of rafting uphill both ways in boats that were carved out of New River Standstone with so little water in the river that, if you fell out of the raft, you just dusted yourself off and walked back over to the boat.

Some of those stories might even be true ;-)  But you’ll have to book a raft trip to find out.

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