crew made an unguided descent down the Nantahala River on
Mike and Kelly assured Randy and me (Woody) that they had prior
rafting experience and a guide was not needed.
This innocent looking segment of the Nantahala was our launch point.
What happened next was anything but innocent!
Actually, the launch was a piece of cake. We lowered the
raft into the water and climbed aboard. After practicing a
couple of spins to make sure we could maneuver the craft we were
ready for the trip, or so it seemed.
Before we could become accustomed to the raft and get our
bearings all hell broke loose! We floated downstream
about 50 yards from the launch point before hitting an underwater
rock! The raft buckled and pitched as it hit the rock,
throwing Kelly into the air and off the bow into the water.
Randy and his paddle made a great splash as they hit the water on
the starboard side. Mike and I were thrown to the floor but
remained in the raft. By the time Mike and I collected ourselves,
Kelly was 20 yards downstream and moving away at a rapid pace.
Randy was clinging desperately to the side of the raft.
and I made a snap decision to try to recapture Randy's paddle
which was following Kelly down river. We began to paddle
furiously but finally realized that we
couldn't catch the paddle.
Besides, it was hard to row with Randy clinging to the side of the
raft. If we couldn't catch the paddle, we might as well
rescue Randy. Randy thought this was a great idea! We
helped Randy climb aboard the raft and the three of us took off in hot pursuit of Kelly and Randy's paddle, both
completely out of sight by this time.
Rounding a bend in the river, we saw that Kelly had been
thoughtfully rescued as he floated downstream by a raft of young
girls. They were landing on the far side of the river to get
Kelly onboard. Mike, Randy and I couldn't cross the swift
current to make landfall near them so we continued on down the
river looking for a landing where we could retrieve Kelly. We
eventually found a small beach and managed to row close enough to
make landfall. The girls delivered Kelly and our crew was
girls must have laughed all the way down the river and had great
stories to tell when they got home about rescuing some old guys on
their raft trip down the river!
Our trip continued without serious incident...if you don't count
being out of control a few more times and hitting almost every
submerged rock on the way downstream!