Riding the rapids of the Chattahoochee - WRBL

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Riding the rapids of the Chattahoochee

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Rafting, kayaking and enjoying the Whitewater rapids on the Chattahoochee can be a very rewarding experience, as long as you take the proper safety precautions.

Dan Gilbert and the Whitewater Express team have been learning the river for more than a year. He says, "We want to have looked at every angle, everything that could possibly happen and be prepared for it. And they all have CPR and first aid, so they're really ready to take care of our customers and keep them safe."

Safety is the first thing they teach rafters before every trip. Everyone must have a helmet and a type 5 Personal Flotation Device along with knowing how to properly hold a paddle to avoid injury.

The two and a half mile whitewater course wasn't always the picturesque set of waves you see today. Century-old dams were blown up to make way for the rapids, and the WaveShaper and Cutbait complete the experience.

Gilbert says, "It creates a terrific wave and a long wave train, meaning it's not just one wave, but you have four or five giant waves, standing waves going downstream. So you have fun at the first one, second, third, fourth and fifth."

While the river is designed to be safe for all, life vests and helmets are essentials on the water. The Outside World Whitewater instructor Joey Robinson says, "It is a current that you cannot jump in and swim through without proper safety equipment. I've been paddling for seven years now, I've been an instructor for three of those seven years, I used to be a lifeguard, very good swimmer, I would never in my life even consider getting in any of that current anywhere in the river without a Personal Flotation Device and a helmet."

And if you do happen to fall out of your boat, keep your feet up! Ignore your instincts. Robinson adds, "If you are in the current coming down a rapid, and you try to put your feet down on the bottom and stand up in that current to gain control of the situation, if you put your foot down in between two rocks, your foot can become entrapped there and become very dangerous."

Whitewater Express will be running five trips a day starting May 25. They have capacity for 80 people per ride with five or six in each boat. To book a trip, call them at 1 (800) 676-7238.

Kids must be seven years or older or over 60 pounds to take a low-flow trip in the daytime, and 12 years or older for the high-flow evening runs.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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