5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About a River Trip
Considering an overnight river trip? Here are five good-to-know nuggets from an everyday Jane who’s been there, done that.
1) River guides are no joke. Seriously.
Before my first river trip, I had a pretty vivid picture in my mind of what our guide would be like: Someone college-aged in board shorts and a floppy hat who took his shirt off too often and said “dude” too much. Someone whose overpowering young, outdoorsy hipness would shine a big, fat spotlight on my age and ineptitude.
But I was wrong.
River guides are hard-working, talented, well-educated professionals. I have had a guide who enthralled us for hours (yes, hours…enthralled!) with the history, geology and biology of the river. His subtle sense of humor that made things like “Morgan formations” and “merganser ducks” seem like stand-up comedy. Plus he made a mean breakfast frittata.
2) A boatload.
The engineering feat that goes into packing a week (or more) of supplies for 20-plus people in a boat is absolutely mind-boggling. All the essentials, including drinking water, life vests, food (beer!), comforts like tents, Paco Pads, chairs and three square (and delicious!) meals per person per day gets stored in the bottom of a river raft. On our 5-day, 4-night trip that meant 375 meals in total.
You’ll be glad it’s all there. And glad you’re not one of the guides who’s packing it all in! So pack light. You can practically live in a bathing suit and a pair of quick-dry shorts. Really.
3) Stranger danger.
I was more than a bit apprehensive about hanging with two dozen strangers for five days. But the sense of community and camaraderie with my fellow travelers became one of the highlights of my experience. Even my kids would tell you what they remember most was the evenings around the campfires telling stories and playing games.
4) It’s polite to stare.
On my trip, I sat and stared for hours on end—at the majestic canyons of the Yampa River, at the clouds, at the ripples of water moving ever-toward the shore, at the tops of my feet as they skimmed the river currents…and more frequently than I would like to admit, at the inside of my eyelids.
It was a much-needed mental break from everyday life letting my eyes glaze over and fixate on the tranquil beauty all around me.
5) Taking care of business
Everyone wants to know. But nobody actually wants to ask. I mean, you can’t hold it the entire time (especially with that ever-present sound of rushing water).
So here’s the deal: It’s part of OARS’ commitment to sustainable travel to Leave No Trace in the delicate environments where they operate. So, while guides provide completely private privies, you must learn to pee and poo in two different locations—both of them outside.
Basically, liquids go in the river, while solids are along for the ride (see #2 above, but try not to think too much about it). Without TMI, I can tell you that the views from the groover are so outstanding that they almost take your mind off the task at hand.