Sunday, June 3, 2012

White Water Rafting

Finally we get some good weather. All this rain was not in the brochure!

This weekend was supposed to be our trip to China, but Dustin had some work issues that kept us from leaving the country. So instead we decided to take a road trip down to Shikoku and go white water rafting. Shikoku is one of the four main islands of Japan.

Star is Iwakuni, marker is Yoshino River
The drive was about four and a half hours. We went over some remarkable bridges, but none of my pictures came out during the drive. When we finally arrived at the HappyRaft base camp I was so excited. Dustin was eerily calm. I think he was a little apprehensive about what was coming up. This was his first time going white water rafting and my stories weren't assuring him too much.

The water was a chilly 47 degrees. I'm pretty sure I felt icebergs while drifting along in the water. To prepare for the cold water, we were given wet suits and the option to wear a fleece. I decided I would rather be warm so I took both.

So after gearing up we took a short bus ride and then we were on the water! The Yoshino River had some major run off (according to the group guides) so were going to experience some "rough water." The rapids were classified as class four. Many times our guide (who spoke very very very little English) would tell us to just ride through the rapids in the boat. "Get down!" So in the boat we went. Better than getting thrown out I suppose.

Class Three Rapids
The river is broken up by long stretches of deeper water so a game was created. The goal was to knock, pull, or push everyone out of a boat and then capture it. Dustin and I were with a group of about 40 other Marines. Needless to say, I started just staying in the water rather than try to get back into the boat. The only bad part was when water would touch skin inside my wet suit that it had not touched before. It was an icy stab!

"Get down!"
So along the river we went. Get back in the boat when we were coming up on rapids, take over another boat (or just float in the water, like me) when we weren't. At one point, we didn't get in the boat fast enough and went though some rapids with just out life jackets. We called it "the economy trip." It was definitely a different experience! Feet down river... go! Hopefully you don't swallow too much water!

If the rapids and boat-commandeering weren't enough to keep you occupied, the view would have made up the difference. We went though some beautiful gorges and saw two tall waterfalls. At one point we came to an area that we were allowed to get out and cliff jump. So up the rocks we trekked and off we jumped!

Not me, but a better picture
Then it was back in the boats for another set of rapids before breaking for lunch. At the end of the stretch was a great place to go "surfing." The goal is to see who could stay in the boat and keep it upright. I posted the videos on my Facebook page so you can see the fun. Definitely some crazy water!

Sagoi = Awesome!
Then it was time to break for lunch. We crawled out of the boats and hiked about a mile up the ravine to a flat grassy area by the road. There a team had made homemade (and delicious) bagels. We used them to make tuna or ham sandwiches. Fresh tea, fruit, and a sweet orange cream on crackers rounded out the meal. Amazingly they had plenty of food for the forty or so Marines and families. We eat much more compared to Japanese customers!

Back in the water we had some quick rapids and then a deeper period where we flipped our boat.

Hang on!
Then we went down the last set of rapids with the boat upside down. It is very hard to stay on a slippery boat going down the river upside down! Once at the end it was time for a couple group shots and then the bus ride back to HappyRaft base camp.

Whew! What a fun day! We changed into dry clothes and watched the slide show from our trip. We will definitely be back to Shikoku to see what else it has to offer. I've heard rumors of great beaches, exciting spelunking, and thrilling canyoning. Who will join us on the next adventure?

At the end... very tired!

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