One of the coolest things about South Carolina is the diversity of landscapes we have in our relatively small state. The fact that the breezy temperatures and waterfalls of the mountains are just five or so hours away from the sandy shores and palmetto trees of the coast makes South Carolina a pretty ideal vacation destination.
Having grown up in the Upstate, one would think I would’ve taken advantage of being so near the Blue Ridge Mountains. One would be wrong. And what a shame! There is so much to do up there, and the views are incredible no matter when you go. Fall is probably my favorite time to visit though. With the crisp air and colorful leaves, South Carolina’s mountains are exactly my idea of a fall destination.
So, I’ll be honest, of all the experiences I had the opportunity to try throughout the Go For It series, I was most nervous about whitewater rafting. I just knew I would be the person to fall out of the boat. I made a point to avoid watching rafting videos before my trip because I knew it would just give me more anxiety. But while talking to Trey at Wildwater Adventures about why someone should give activities like this a try, he summed it up perfectly when he said that's what life is about—stepping outside your comfort zone and pushing through your nervousness to have some of the best experiences possible. He probably said it more eloquently than that, but whatever the wording, it got me in the raft!
Located near the Chattooga River in Long Creek, South Carolina, Wildwater Adventures offers rafting trips with experienced guides, making it easy to navigate the wild mountain waters. You can choose your trip based on experience and skill level and whether you want to spend a full or half-day on the water. Lunch is included in your excursion and they take pictures to memorialize your adventure. See Exhibit A below.
On my trip on Section III of the Chattooga, I shared a raft with a mom and her two young sons, about 9 to 11 years old. I kept thinking it's such a great way to spend the day with your family! You’re bunched together in a raft, but focused on listening to your guide and working as a team to paddle, all the while surrounded by nature. We also had several opportunities to get out of the raft and swim in the refreshing waters of the Chattooga, designated a "national wild and scenic river," which provides the strongest protection for free-flowing rivers and streams in the U.S.
The day passed swiftly, and with an experienced guide, the nerves did, too. Before I knew it, we’d been on the water for three hours and I was loving every minute of it. The pinnacle of the trip was paddling over the infamous Bull Sluice. Before you arrive at the Class IV+ rapids, everyone gets a pep talk and a practice round of hunkering down in the boat to keep (hopefully) from falling out during the run. The rafts take the plunge one at a time, so you get to see how each group fares. My group went second, which in my opinion is probably the best spot to make the run. If I’d had to watch every group go before me, there’s a chance I might have backed out.
When it was our turn, I didn’t even think about falling out. I was so focused on listening to the guide and ducking down into the raft, I didn’t have time to freak out about the three-second drop over the rapids. After we passed safely, I understood how Wildwater Adventures got its name. Sitting in the front of the raft, I got a full surge of cold Chattooga River water right in my face as the raft went almost completely underwater. It was awesome, and I’m so glad I went for it.
This series is all about trying things for the first time, and while not all vacation experiences in our life are going to be repeats, I can honestly say that I will be going back to raft the Chattooga again. I can’t wait to share my memories with my own son and talk about my first trip down the rapids when he’s old enough to make the trip himself.
I hope you’ll be inspired in the future to try something that makes you a little a bit nervous, too. You never know just how exciting it will be.
Filming for this show was done in part prior to Covid-19 and SCPRT recommends following local guidelines for social distancing and your personal protection. Some of the activities depicted in the “Go For It’ series might be affected, or even unavailable, due to Covid-19. Please check with the local provider or attraction for the latest schedules and hours of operation.