Guide School Day 2, and the hopefuls spent a lot of time practicing safe whitewater swim techniques during their multiple trips over Bull Sluice Rapid on Section III of the Chattooga River. Veteran raft guides were there to cheer on the trainees, with scorecards for encouragement. Let’s see what Kay had to say about her experience yesterday.
“I have been anticipating Guide School for about 3 years now, and it is hard to believe that the second day has already come to an end. My first experience with Wildwater was during the 2010 summer. I spent four days on the Chattooga River with Radford University’s Wilderness Institute, rafting and learning how to whitewater canoe. After talking to the guides and learning about their own experiences, I knew I wanted to try out their job some day. After completing my Undergraduate and Master’s degrees, I finally have my chance to attend Guide School and take a stab at being a Wildwater raft guide.
The anticipation and excitement were almost overwhelming yesterday during the first day. With most new and authentic experiences, the honeymoon phase sometimes begins to fade with the onset of fatigue and sore muscles. I can assure you that this second day did not disappoint and may have trumped the first one!
Today we did another full Section III trip on the Chattooga. The water level was perfect and almost all of the guiding, or “stick time”, was given to my fellow schoolmates and I. We “put on” the water around 11:30 am and by lunchtime we were repeatedly running Bull Sluice Rapid. It’s pretty empowering to have seasoned raft guides entrusting you with their lives, as well as the others in the boat, to just “T it up” and launch your raft over the double drops. Everyone got a chance to guide the Bull. There were some clean lines (smooth rides) and, as expected, there were definitely some less than smooth rides. While this experience could have been incredibly intimidating and frustrating, there was an abundance of support, not only from the trainers, but also from the other Wildwater staff who showed up to take photos and “rate” our runs.
After lunch and plenty of swimming training, we continued down Section IV. This section provided more consistent and larger rapids, which had more demanding and technical lines. I found the second half to be more challenging, as evidenced by my swimming out of the guide seat when approaching a rapid, and missing a few ferries (technical whitewater move used to get through current to the other side of the river). These tiny hiccups only provided me with more motivation and anticipation to get on the over rivers during the rest of Guide School. I can’t wait to see what the Nantahala and Ocoee Rivers have in store this weekend!”
Special guest author: Kay Tufts, Ocoee River Raft Guide hopeful