Orlando Bingles’ 2011 Summer Road Trip – Day 2

by Bingle on Aug.14, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

The highlight of day two of our trip was to be white-water rafting on the Ocoee River in Tennessee. Since our raft trip was to be in the afternoon, we had some time to kill before arriving at the rafting place. Our drive into Murphy, NC had been twisty enough so we decided to skip the Cherahola Skyway and/or The Dragon and visit some waterfalls instead. Turned out the drive to the falls was pretty twisty as well.

Our first stop was Dry Falls near Highlands, NC. While the name might make you think that there is little or no water going over these falls, that’s not why it has the name. The real reason is that you can stay dry while walking behind the falls! A short switchback path leads down to the bottom and then around behind the waterfall and over to the other side. There is even a small natural alcove directly behind the falls where you can stop and experience the “backside of water”. The girls and Rich took lots of pictures.

2011 Summer Trip-1
2011 Summer Trip-2

Next stop was just a couple of miles away at Bridal Veil Falls. It seems that almost every state has a waterfall named Bridal Veil and many of them are visible from a nearby road or highway and this one was no exception. But this particular Bridal Veil Falls also shared something in common with Dry Falls – you could go behind it. In fact, you could actually drive behind it! While the flow was barely a trickle so late in the summer, we still took time to walk and drive behind the falls and take some pictures.

Then it was time to go over some falls! Well, not really “falls”, but “rapids” as it was time for some white-water rafting! We headed to the Nantahala Outdoor Center Ocoee River Outpost. Our drive to the outpost took us right past the drop-in point and then along the river for several miles. There were rafting company buses galore on that little two lane curvy road, some pulling trailers for hauling rafts, and all traveling at or above the speed limit. After a short safety briefing and picking out our lifejackets and helmets it was soon time for a repeat trip on the road along the river, this time inside one of those speeding buses!

The raft trip itself was a blast, filled with all sorts of whitewater. This was the first time that Alyssa had to actually help paddle and not just ride along and she did great! The drop-in point was actually just upstream of a dam/spillover that was probably about 12′ high. At first I was pretty confused, but it turns out that the raft company uses that flat water to teach people how to paddle and take direction and then they get back out and portage down to the bottom of the dam before starting the trip for real.

Karen and the girls took advantage of a smooth section to get in the water. It was a lot warmer than any other raft trip we’ve been on. Probably the highlight of the rafting was getting to “surf” in one of the rapids. Basically we paddled like mad upstream to get into a standing wave and then being basically held there by the force of the water. We failed on our first attempt, but managed to pull it off on our second. At another point on the river our guide literally jumped out of the raft onto a large rock and attempted to run along it and then jump back into the raft as we went by it… He didn’t make it and we had to paddle back to get him.

Having now gone white-water rafting four times as a family , I think it is pretty safe to say that it is something that we all enjoy quite a bit and look forward to doing more of in the future.

Our day concluded with a drive up to Pigeon Forge, TN which would be our base of operations for the next several days.

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