Welcome to Spring Whitewater Rafting!
Spring is the perfect time to hit the rivers and raft some rapids, even if (or especially if) you’ve never been whitewater rafting before. The whole world is blooming and bursting with new growth–the flowers, foliage, and, yes, the rapids. After winter, the rivers are flowing strong and playful, thanks to slowly melting snowpack. In fact, early spring runoff provides some of the most exciting whitewater in the Northeast. Before you head out, there are a few spring rafting tips I want to pass on to you. Trust me, they will make all the difference between a day of whitewater fun versus a less-than-pleasant trip down chilly lane.
Word to the Water-wise
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that spring water is colder than the rest of the year. Dam-release rivers, such as our beloved Kennebec and Dead rivers, can warm up nicely over the course of the summer, but in the spring they are cold. Fear not! You’ve got an array of options for staying warm on the river!
Suit Up in Neoprene
Wetsuits were made to retain body heat–from diving in the Arctic to surfing in the Atlantic. Neoprene creates an insulating barrier of water between you and the suit to ensure your body temperature stays toasty. These neoprene wonders come in different styles and even thicknesses for different purposes. The Farmer John lacks arms, a top or paddle jacket is just for the top, or go for the full Monty with a full wetsuit. Add neoprene booties and gloves to seal in the warmth.
Warm Even When Wet
Wool or fiber pile (a plush, synthetic material) gear also works well to keep your body warm from your head to your toes. Wool or fleece caps, sweaters, gloves and socks let you focus on the fun of the paddle not the temperature. Layer wool with neoprene for extra heat on your feet. But whatever you do, ditch the cotton. While wool, polypropylene and modern synthetic thermal materials stay warm even when wet, cotton absorbs water (hydrophilic) AND stays cold. Save your T-shirt for wearing around the cabin or at the brewery! Nothing feels better after a spring river run than sitting in a hot tub and sipping on a cold microbrew.
Learn more about Spring rafting on The Penobscot and Dead Rivers!