The build-up begins immediately after booking the trip. Preparing for a day on the river is almost as much fun as experiencing it. Planning what you are going to wear is important. If the weather is going to be cold, then a wetsuit may be in order. If the weather is fine, then it's shorts and a t-shirt. Don't forget to take a sweatshirt or kagool with you. You have to plan for after the adventure, as well. This may mean a long hike back to your take-in point.
Possibly the most fun part of getting ready for a day of rafting is preparing lunch, and that begins with shopping. Your meal may consist of fried chicken, deviled eggs, and potato salad, for instance. Take a few high-calorie snacks. Those rapids aren't going to conquer themselves.
It is a good idea to take a thermos full of your favorite hot drink. You will most certainly get wet, and it can be cold on the water. Most rivers are the remnants of what once carved out canyons. Cold air sinks, and you will be at the bottom of that canyon.
Don't take with you anything you can't afford to lose forever. Even if you don't tip the boat over and lose everything, anything can happen on the river. Also, there may be loads of other people, some of whom prey on those who are preoccupied with preserving life on the rapids. Beware pickpockets, and lock your valuables in the car. Really, they are much safer there than at the bottom of Montgomery Bell Tunnel.
You will need sunglasses, so make sure these are not your prescription pair with all the exotic lens coatings. A cheap supermarket or drugstore pair will do nicely. It can get pretty bright on the river if the sun is shining and reflecting off the water. If you are paddling through canyons, these will mostly protect your eyes from the sun, but there will be times when you are out in the open. You will want to see what's in front of you.
Your guide will advise you to wear a life jacket and helmet. Do it. If you want to know why, chances are the little shop before you get into the water will have a photograph of someone who failed to take this advice. It will not be a pretty picture.
After the ride, you will feel amazing. You probably won't be able to stop talking. This is great, because you and your companions will want to start planning your next trip right away.
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