April 17th, 2012, we set out for a leisurely day on section 9 of the French Broad River. We closed the phones, rallied our sewing, office and warehouse staff for a day of fun on the water. We were also excited to have our friends Kevin Mulligan, Robin Betz and a couple of dedicated husbands.
With a little help from our friends at French Broad Rafting Expeditions, we loaded the bus with a couple of rafts, duckies, kayaks and a shredder, and headed to the Barnard put in. After a short but informative trip talk, we loaded our boats and shoved off into the sunshine.
We had a couple of first time of first time duckie paddlers, so we ran a tight trip. Our veteran boaters gave Vianey and Mayra some tips to help them maneuver through their first couple of rapids.
After our first class two rapid, the Maze, we stopped for a swim; some of the more adventurous members of our crew took a leap into the broad, although some required a little more coaxing than others…
We then headed downstream; both ducks swam at S-turn, but were quickly recovered, and back in their boats in no time! Then a stuck raft gave us a little excitement just before lunch. We had one more super fun rapid before we stopped for a lunch break, Roller Coaster. Margie rode the bull, and as she saddled up on the nose, exclaimed,”I’m not gonna get wet am I?” Yonton and Robin surfed, while Ocey and the ladies paddled back up for a turn, and filled up their bucket boat.
We pulled over for lunch at French Broad’s lunch pavilion, for a well deserved spread of sandwiches.
Everyone was excited to get back on the water, so we packed up our cooler, donned our jackets and got back in our vessels for the second half of our trip. We switched up one of our duckies, after lunch, and Andrea got a few yards of calm water to get used to her duck before we headed into Ledges. Yonton was a great coach, staying close and giving pointers. Nonetheless, she swam out of her duck. Kevin picked her up in the shredder, while our hard boaters quickly picked up her paddle and duck.
Towards the end of the trip, it ALMOST started to rain on us, but we hustled to Stackhouse to meet our shuttle, just barely missing the downpour. We loaded back on the bus and headed back to the outpost to dry out before heading back home.
We had a great trip, and so much fun outside of our work environment. We were all smiles that afternoon, and everyone was talking about how much fun they had the next day! We greatly appreciate French Broad’s help with our trip, so now we can all say ‘We went down on the French Broad’.