Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Wet and Wild with Poconos' Whitewater Challengers

By: Finance Foodie

This past Labor Day, I resolved to take it easy. After almost a month of "Pre-Term"grad school life in Philly (Pre-Term=staying out late, drinking like a fish, and generally not going to class), I knew I need some time to decompress and sober up. However, just one day of relaxation left me as bored as a fatso at a salad bar, so I decided spice things up a bit and go whitewater rafting on the Lehigh River in Poconos, PA (aka the must visit outdoors adventure destination two hours outside of Philly). It had been a few months since my last rafting trip, so I was totally itching to get back into the waters and shoot some waves (or if I fell out the raft, I figure I'd practice my doggie paddle skills and take a swim). Plus, I was going with 30 plus of my super fun fellow grad school classmates, and I thought this would be a great way to bond with them without sacrificing the health of my liver.

Our group chose to raft with Whitewater Challengers, the premier whitewater rafting company serving the Philly and NYC area that came heavily recommended by my whitewater rafting chums from back in the day. Since we had a few beginners on our trip, we decided take the Class III rapids trip (although if it were up to me, I would have for sure gone with the Class V and beyond!).

Whitewater Rapid Classes 101
Class I — Easy, no obstacles, small ripples, slow current
Class II — Moderate, occasional obstacles, medium current with waves
Class III — Larger, more exciting, longer rapids with strong, irregular currents
Class IV — Very large, steeper rapids, longer with numerous obstacles
Class V — Extremely Difficult, has large vertical drops, strong hydraulics, very swift, irregular
currents in heavily obstructed channels
Class VI — Nearly Impossible and Very Dangerous. For teams of experts only, after close study
and with all precautions taken.

Here's a few of the crew getting ready to hit the water. Notice how dry and attractive everyone is here. This will not be the case by the end of our 4 hour trip.
...And off we go into the Lehigh!
This was one of our guide. I forgot his name but he was totally awesome cause he saved more than a few of my fellow classmates from drowning when our rafts hit rocks and/or flipped over.
Halfway through the journey, we all took a break for lunch. Obviously, the food was very basic (no Le Bec Fin catering here), but it totally did its job in providing some much needed energy after 2 hours of paddling. And FYI, although the below photo makes me look as if I just consumed an unacceptable meal, I was actually pretty satisfied with my turkey sandwich (especially since the turkey meat was generously portioned!).
Even though the water was freeeeeezing and slightly dirty, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to test drive my new swimsuit and take a swim (that's me on the right).
During the course of the trip, boat wars broke out (this was obviously expected given the competitive nature of business school students). Our boat started out at Team Peace, but ended as Team Pirates (I won't get into details but let's just say things got real heated and buckets/ people started flying!
And finally, us at the very end -- wet, tired, horribly ugly, but super happy about the fun day we had.
All and all, a terrific trip and a great bonding experience amongst my classmates! After this adventure, I cannot wait to see what else is in store for the next two years!

[Photos: Will Wang / Winnie Sze]

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