Tag Archives: White Water Rafting

Blazing Through The Last Frontier: Denali National Park of Alaska

“We have two events tomorrow,” I began to tell the others. “The first event takes place in the morning.”

Then the questions hit me hard.

“What is it?” “What do we wear?” “Are you gonna prep us?”  “Just give us a hint!”

I was pretty tight-lipped as to what the mysterious eight events were and planned on not revealing any of them until the moment we arrived at the given event.

Veronica and Katelin wondering...What the heck is happening?
Veronica and Katelin wondering…What the heck is happening?

“Just follow my lead,” I would say to them. “I’ll let you know how to dress and what you should bring.” I wouldn’t let any of them go in unprepared. It’s the least I could do. However, for the first event only, I told them what we were doing to curb their anxious minds.

“We’re going white water rafting, bright and early in the morning!” I revealed to them. I wanted to lie and pretend we were doing something else completely different to throw them off, but decided that I’ve been lying to them enough lately already.

Event #1 of 8 – White Water Rafting in Denali National Park Alaska

Alaska has been blowing my mind with its mesmerizing landscape in every direction I looked. The spruce woods and mountainous ranges extend as far as the eye could see. Anything we chose to do here would be complemented with the background scenery. This place is a photographers dream zone. Our white water rafting through the rapids of the Nenana River, from the births of Mount McKinley, was about to be awesome!

We went to a shop just outside of Denali where we were suited up in an outfit to keep us dry in Nenana’s freezing cold waters.

The League of Eight Extraordinary Events

Our guides for this hike were three dudes by the name of Chicago, Peacock, and Derek. All three were non-locals and were up here in Alaska for the summer. As a matter of fact, most of the people who worked in these shops weren’t locals and were only here for summer work. Why? The winters here are the worst thing to ever exist and it was understandably so. Even during the peak summer season, although it didn’t snow, it sure did rain a lot. Actually, more of a drizzle that created an everlasting haze, but it added to the mind-soothing eeriness of it all. It drizzled the morning of our event, but none of us seemed to mind. Especially since the suits we were wearing kept our bodies snug and dry.

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Katelin, Veronica, and Chris ready for the first event.

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I’ve been white water rafting several times on previous trips. My first time was in Peru which was amazing. Then again in Thailand and Nepal. Nepal takes the prize as the best water rafting I have ever done, mainly because of the consistency of the high class rapids and the number of times our raft flipped. In order to have the perfect rafting experience, the raft has to flip and throw us off! I planned on asking our guide to make sure our boat f*%ing flips. Go crazy! I had high hopes…until I saw the other people in our raft. They were of the elderly type…the safety first, peaceful, ‘Heavens to Betsy’ elderly type. Still, I remained optimistic.

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The Nenana River flowed a muddy gray through the basin as our raft propelled neatly on top of the motions. We were given brief instruction about proper paddle commands and procedures before we took off. This was going to be about 11 miles of rafting, so my hopes of hitting some major swirls were high!

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Just like most white water rafting trips, the rapids eased us into itself before hitting us with the good stuff. We did get splashed in the face quite a bit, but only our hands and heads got wet. The dry suit we had on worked wonders and thankfully too because the water was really, really cold. Refreshing, but cold.

We hit a few rapids that ferociously rocked our raft. Not fierce enough for anyone to fall out, but enough to get decked with onslaughts of water blasts. I began to think we wouldn’t flip when I noticed our cautious guide avoiding all the higher class rapids, much to the delight of the elderly woman behind me. I had my water camera on me and whenever I stopped paddling to capture the thrills, she would indirectly make it known to me how everyone should be paddling. “Keep paddling! Everyone needs to be paddling!” She would say this everytime I plopped up my camera. She also did this when Katelin tried to do the same thing. “Everyone needs to be paddling!” Talk about a wet blanket.

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We paddled for a couple of hours before our guide decided to let Chris and I jump into the water.


It was crazy how dry I was and the cold didn’t penetrate one bit! I grabbed onto a rope to make sure I didn’t get swept away before being hoisted back into the raft. From there, it was smooth sailing as we approached a bank to get back on foot and the end of event #1.

White water rafting is always fun no matter the conditions. Even though it wasn’t as extreme as I had hoped, it was still mighty enjoyable and a great way to kick off this League of Eight Extraordinary Events!

Event #2 of 8 – Ace ATV through the Alaskan Wilderness

The second event took place on the same day but hours later, at 9:30pm (21:30). One would think it would be dark at this time but not here in Alaska. This time of year in Denali it doesn’t get completely dark until well after 2am (02:00). What better way to explore the wilderness late in the evening than on single rider Ace ATV’s?


Veronica, Chris, and Katelin didn’t know what they were doing until we walked up to the ATV Denali shop when it became obvious. We’re going for a ride!

The best thing about this tour was that it was just the four of us and two guides, no one else! So no waiting on slowpoke tourists or sitting through dumb tourist questions. We had this tour to ourselves. The guides preffered the smaller group too.

We each had our own Ace ATV to explore the Alaskan wilderness as we followed our guides through some pristine spots with excellent views and a story or two. The ride was excellent and way more fun than I anticipated.



It was well past 10pm(22:00) and still light as day outside which was really weird. We could see the sun attempting to set but it was taking forever to do so. Such a beautiful tease.

The second event ended the day on a thrillingly high note. Two extraordinary events down, six more to go!

My clueless friends are unware that things are about to get intense.

Camp Adventure Nepal!

The water was ice cold and moving fast. My head was bobbing in and out of the water as I floated along, with next to no control. I had on my helmet, wetsuit, life-vest, and a paddle in hand. When I fell into the water, I managed to keep hold of my paddle. It’s one of the “rules” of white water rafting. If you fall out into the water, make sure you don’t lose your paddle. Our raft hit a swell of water that I underestimated, knocking me and only me off the raft into the chilly rapids. As I hastily floated along waiting for a kayaker to come save me, I saw another set of rapids and swirls dead ahead approaching. There was no point of swimming away, I was that rivers’ puppet at that point. The kayaker in our fleet of rafts and floats came from the reaches and when he came close enough, I grabbed onto the bow of his kayak, just in time before the next set of rapids arrived to toy with me. “You okay?” he asked.

“I’m good!” I yelled back with a thumbs up.

This was white rafting and I was loving every single second of it.

The rafting was part of a two-day outdoor excursion me and four others booked. The first day, Tané, Alexis, Tim, Jess, and I would be canyoning a few hours away from Pokhara on cascading waterfalls. Emre and Natacha were supposed to come along but they both fell ill right before we left on the bus.

We arrived in an area unknown to me and were given our gear for canyoning: a wetsuit, water boots, a helmet, life vest, and a waist harness to attach ropes to. The first part of the day sucked. We had to hike about 25 minutes up a steep slope with all of our equipment but soon were rewarded with a refreshingly cool waterfall that beat down upon our heads.

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I had my GoPro attached to my helmet, kicking myself for not bringing my chest attachment instead. That would have suited better for this event. With the sound of rushing waters and my helmet covering my ears, I could barely hear the beeps I needed to hear to know if my GoPro was recording properly. I found myself constantly unfastening my helmet, to set my camera properly.

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In addition to our group of five, there were maybe about 12 other people joined to our canyoning group. We began with a simple task: learning the proper way to jump in shallow water. Soon afterwards we began our jumps off of higher cliffs into pools of water left from the falls.

Among another cascade, we abseiled down the falls into another bowl of water. We didn’t have gloves so everyones hands were red and sore coming down. At least my harness didn’t hurt me like the last time I went abseiling on Table Mountain.

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On the next cascade, our guides attached a rope to our harness and slowly let us down a waterfall that turned into a natural slide of smooth wet rock. I didn’t know what to expect as I was descending against my will, but it seemed each waterfall was that way. Not really knowing what to expect until you actually go. Each was fun and I couldn’t stop laughing every time I watched the girls come down the waterfall. Their expressions as the waterfall clogged their faces were priceless and I managed to capture most of it on camera. Though, the pinnacle of the amusement came from Alexis. We came upon one cliff where we had three choices on how to descend: slide, abseil, or jump. Most of us jumped off into the pool, maybe 8 meters high. Alexis drew up a pinch short of enough courage to jump. The cliff sprang outward, so instead of just simply jumping, you had to launch yourself forward with enough air in order to not hit the extending cliff on the way down. Alexis stood up there for a few minutes before she hesitantly started to tip toe as close to the edge as possible. The guide near warned her it was slippery, but his advice came too late. Alexis slipped her foot and instantly everyone around, including I, fell to a quick worried silence. Alexis fell down the cliff, remaining vertical the whole time, pinballing herself all the way down into the pool.

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No one said a word until she rose her head from underwater with a big blushed grin on her face. Then we all began to die from laughter. Moment of the day for sure!

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The canyoning continued with more of the same, and that was a good thing. We agreed that after it was done, we felt refreshed from all the crispy clean mountain water we played in all day. We collected back on the bus but that was the last time we would stay in our big group. The five of us were shipped off about an hour or so to a running river along sand that we would call our campsite for the night. Thanks to our buddy Arun of Simrik, he was able to setup tents on the beach, equipped with sleeping bags, and then he personally bought us chicken to grill over a campfire that night. It was the perfect setup. Private and secluded from everyone else.

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Nepal is completely landlocked, so I didn’t count on getting sand from here. Low and behold, our campsite had sand! The sand here looked like someone took some salt and some black pepper and mixed it all together; much more salt than pepper though. I managed to bottle some to take back to the States with me to add to my growing collection.

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The camping grounds along the river was just what we all needed. The sleeping bags proved to be a much more comfortable sleep than back at Thapa’s village. May it have been the fact that we were between mountains with the flurrying river to lull us to sleep like a sweet lullaby. May it have been the perfectly sound weather, not too hot and not too cold. Or was it that we were completely stuffed from the delicious grub we had earlier. A combination of all three perhaps yes.

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The next day, we woke up early kinda late and headed out by bus to our next location to begin white water rafting. Prior, I asked Arun to set us up with the best rapids possible. “The more extreme, the better!” I told him with eagerness. “I want to fall in the water. If our boat capsized then that would be great too!” I’m not sure if the others in my group would want that but I’m sure they laugh about it at the end of the day.

No one in my crew, besides Alexis, has rafted before. They were in for a real treat! We changed into our wet gear and our larger group that we joined were split into three separate rafts along with a couple of kayakers to rescue us in case we fell over.

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The five of us managed to stay together in one raft but we also managed to get stuck with a short, runty, Nepali raft guide who had a stick up his butt. The two strongest men would man the front of the raft. That was Tim and I. But before we set adrift, he had our rafting group of eight practice quick gestures and rafting techniques, but he had a thick Nepali accent and spoke really fast. We all had a hard time understanding what he was saying and so he constantly scolded us, threatening to split us up into other rafts if we didn’t get the motions down. I spoke up for the group and told him he was talking too fast and we had difficulty understanding him. Either he ignored me or he didn’t understand me. No matter, because we began to paddle out into the river anyway. I’ve been having bad luck with the guides here in Nepal.

We look like idiots.
We look like idiots.

Fast-forward past after I lost balance and fell in, the part I mentioned at the beginning of the post. The parts after were a lot more fun! A class 4+ rapid was approaching slowly ahead. Our guide said usually, most rafting companies would stop here and walk around the storm of swirls and swells and then continue on, but our rafting company would go in full force. That’s when my annoyance for our guide turned into love. I was ready and this is all I ever wanted. “Go, go, go!” he shouted from behind. “Paddle, paddle, paddle!”

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We all paddled as fast as we could, as in sync as we could before the whirls under us forced us to paddle at different jerky paces. We were splashed and bumped around from all sides as we quickly rode to a single cluster of rapids that was so disastrous, that it had its own name. I can’t tell you what her name was, I was too focused on the task at hand. We rode up the gush of water so harshly that at one point our raft was completely vertical and all I could see were bobbing yellow helmets, paddles, and raging water. Raging water everywhere! I thought for sure our raft would flip over with everyone on it. Instead, after the surge, we were free from the gushers and I found that Tim, Jess, and two others were gone and our boat was upright. How the other four of us managed to stay on the raft was beyond me. From a distance I saw Jess way across the river. How’d the heck she end up way over there? Tim was no where to be found and I couldn’t say much for the other two. Another set of chaotic rapids were fast approaching and that’s when Tim popped up from the water near our raft. All I could do was grab his arm and keep him close to the raft while the others remaining fought through the oncoming rapids. After we managed to get our crew back together, we came upon another set of rapids that knocked all of us except for one out of the float and into the river. Our boat never flipped over during the entire run but we all were falling out all over the place, where other rafts and kayakers were always able to rescue us.

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Our guide started to lighten his mood during the trip, amused at how we would always lose at least one person every few minutes. I didn’t expect much coming into it, but these were probably the best rapids I’ve ever experienced yet!

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After all that excitement, we took a long bus ride back to Pokhara and then to Simrik. Nothing was planned for the Sunday. But we would be saying farewell to Tané, as this was her last day here in Pokhara before she heads back home to Australia. We had the remainder of the day to relax and unwind and eat some food other than dal bhat. But in all honesty, I was actually craving Mina Thapa’s homemade dal bhat! I was also wanted to see the kids up at the village. It happens every weekend I’m down in Lakeside, by the following Sunday, I’m ready to go back up!

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The River Runs Wild

The last time I went white water rafting was way back about two years ago in Peru, and it set the bar pretty high. So assuringly, I was pretty pumped for this rafting trip in Pai, especially since it would last for two days and would include waterfalls, hot springs, and camping out in the jungle! Kevin, Björn, and I were anxious and ready, especially those two because they’ve never been white water rafting before. They were in for a real treat!

The company we booked with, Rafting Adventures, picked us up from our bungalows and took us a few kilometers to their information center. There we had a small breakfast, fitted into our gear, and received instructions and guidelines for the impending course. Now all we had to do was drive about 45 minutes through Pai to the start of the Pai river. I took a motion tablet prior because the roads in Pai are ridiculous! But I turned up fine and we made it to the start of the river.

Kevin, myself, and Björn ready for hours upon hours of rapids!
Kevin, myself, and Björn ready for hours upon hours of rapids!

Our guide on our raft, I forget his name, let us know that the first hour of being on the water was going to be relaxed and calm. He was a local that spoke very very very little English and didn’t wear a life jacket nor a helmet. In the process of the slow ascent up the river, I got talking to the Kevin and Björn about typical German and American phrases and slangs. I taught them a few phrases and things we do in America, like how to play “That’s What She Said”. It was kind of hard to explain at first but they understood eventually, although they would say “That’s What She Said” at times where it wouldn’t make any sense! I taught them a few other useless lingo, including what a “muffin top” was, which they found hilarious! It was this general back and forth of trading our respective countries jargon and typical phrases that passed the time, and finally we arrived to the real chunks of the rapids.

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There was six of us in our raft altogether, and we were naturals as we roughed through the swirls of chaos going on in the river. But, at one point we collided into a massive boulder and ended up flipping our raft over! Everyone resurfaced fine, except for Kevin who was trapped underneath the raft for a few seconds! No worries though, he made it out just fine. What was amusing was that every time we were in danger of flipping over or rafting through a rough situation, our guide would shout “Oh my Buddha!”. Or whenever any of us did anything funny, like get sloshed in the face or almost fall over the sides of the raft, he would say “Oh my Buddha!” and laugh at us. He made the rafting more enjoyable than what it already was, even if his English wasn’t so great. Even more enjoyable for me when he guided us to a spot along the river where we could all eat lunch. It consisted of sticky rice, veggies, and fruit. It got the job done. Afterwards, we rafted to a waterfall that we were able to slide down. The force of the waterfall was so powerful, that if you sat underneath it, it felt like a legit massage on your neck and back.

After a couple more hours of surging through the rapids, we arrived to our camping grounds for the night in the middle of the jungle. It was so cool! Maybe about seven stretched out bamboo huts with thin mattresses, each draped with a mosquito net. It was run by a local family who prepared us a monstrous meal around dinner time. Just like many of the meals I have had here in Thailand so far, it was extraordinary. It was around 6pm and I was knackered. I could use a nap. My thought was to just take a nap for about an hour and then hangout with everyone at night. Kevin and Björn had the same idea, so we went to our huts and passed out. I woke up around 8pm to thunder and thrashing rain in complete pitch darkness. I laid there, opened my eyes, and couldn’t see anything whatsoever! I couldn’t even tell if the others were next to me or not. All I could hear was the crazy storm happening right outside. With that, I decided to just fall back asleep.

Our huts for the night.
Our huts for the night.

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The next morning, the sounds of critters and giant bugs I’ve never seen woke me up. Speaking of bugs, the buggies here in Thailand, specifically Pai, are ginormous! Flying cockroaches, huge red millipedes, shiny teal beetles that just chill on your shoulders. Thats not even all. On our way back to rafting, we would find monster spiders in our raft near our legs and feet. When we put the spiders in the water with our paddles, the spider literally walked on top of the water and back into our raft! We just dealt with it and welcomed the creepy crawlies into our boat. As long as what was actually in the river didn’t get us. I’m talking venomous snakes and wild buffalo that were just chilling along side the river. We saw a snake or two swimming in the same river that we fell in, with it’s head above water, gliding from one side to the other. Macau monkeys were swinging in the trees overlooking the river, and colorful birds that I’ve never seen before would consistently fly around us. I LOVE the atmosphere of dense jungles so this was a dream come true. To top it off, was the cliff that we were able to jump off! I was worried about my neck, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The cliff was somewhere between 9-11 meters. Let’s just say 11 for bragging rights. All three of us made the leap into the snake laden water!

I believe I can flyyyyyyy!
I believe I can flyyyyyyy!

After a few more rapids, some almost flipping us over, we were able to jump in the river and float down it for a couple of kilometers. Mind you, none of us knew there were venomous snakes in the water at this time, our guide told us AFTER we saw our first snake a bit further down. After few more hours of rapids, we made it to the ending point where we were greeted by another storm. We chilled here for a bit and ate some snacks which were…out of the ordinary. This little shack had lobster flavored chips and salmon flavored chips too. I tasted the lobster ones and they are probably the grossest chips I’ve ever eaten in my life. If I ate a whole bag I would of surely vomited on the spot. Björn liked them. Crazy German! 🙂

The drive back to our spot in Pai was terrible. I had to stop and get out of the car a couple of times to refrain from vomiting. So far from where I’ve been in Asia, Pai has the worst roads for motion sickness. They aren’t bumpy, they’re actually quite smooth, it’s just constant curves and hills. It’s always a big thing for me when I finish a long journey overland or overwater back to my hostel, because really guys, the queasiness sucks a whole lot. Kevin and Björn were absolutely fine. I wish I had their stomachs of steel!

I had to rest up once we got back to Giants, but soon enough we got some grub! I saw there was a German themed restaurant on the opposite side of town, and after all the local foods the guys have been telling me they have in Germany, we decided to go there. I ordered traditional sauerkraut, some kind of German bread and potatoes. Kevin had schnitzel and I don’t remember what Björn had exactly. They said this sauerkraut would be better if there were things added to it like sausage, onions, and spices. I couldn’t have agreed more, as I wasn’t crazy about the kraut, but the bread and potatoes were pretty good.

The food here was okay, but the guys have told me it's nothing compared to real Germany.
The food here was okay, but the guys have told me it’s nothing compared to real Germany.

On the way back to Giants, a girl stopped us and asked us if we knew of any place that had vacancy. Apparently, she just got dropped off here from the bus and hadn’t booked a stay anywhere yet. We let her know that Giants still had vacancy and she could follow us there since we were on our way already. Her name is Viola (Netherlands). She’s been traveling on her own and is going to go down south through Thailand, pretty much the same route that I am on. We adopted her into our group, as we had a fun filled day with motorbiking through Pai ahead of us.