Unique Training for White Water Rafting Guides

Dec
09

Unique Training for White Water Rafting Guides

Training for Crab Apple’s white water rafting guides on the Monroe Bridge Section of the Deerfield River in Massachusetts has five parts – one is unique to Crab Apple. Before training on the river begins, detailed maps, videos and Go Pro helmet footage from previous white water rafting trips are made available and studied by prospective guides. Maps are two dimensional maps of each rapid drawn by river manager, Frank Mooney. These maps have been drawn and redrawn over the years as white water rapids have changed due to floods. Second, guides make many runs of the river with river manager, Frank Mooney, who has run this section of river in Massachusetts since 1991. A group of new guides can make as many as 4-5 white water rafting trips (called “runs”)  in one day. Guide trainees take turns guiding certain rapids each run and then review maps and have questions answered during the shuttle rides between runs. Guides not steering the raft are also learning during the runs as they are questioned by Frank along the way and also able to see the routes clearly from the front of the raft as they paddle. The third piece of training is a classroom session which follows a day of river runs, with the river manager, Frank. These sessions are often quite long and involve work with river maps and dry erase boards showing parts of rapids that may be giving a prospective guide some trouble.

Walk the River When It Is Low 

For the fourth part of white water rafting training, Crab Apple adds a unique perspective to new guides. The Monroe Bridge Section of the Deerfield is a “dry way”, which means the riverbed is dewatered on most days as the water is diverted through a man-made canal paralleling the river to generate power. There is a minimum flow required in the riverbed on all days, but this flow covers most rapids in ankle to knee deep water and leaves all large boulders completely dry. Crab Apple takes a unique approach to learning on these days and invites all prospective Monroe Bridge guides on a hike/swim of the river. New guides learn so much by walking through a rapid and identifying rocks that make certain waves and drops that are fun to run in a raft when the water is high on scheduled dam release dates. Similarly, structures in the riverbed can be found that form features that can be dangerous and need to be avoided. Seeing both the good and bad features at low flows seems to sink in for guides and make them even more memorable. River Manager, Frank Mooney leads a new crew on a day hike of Monroe Bridge in early June each season. Required gear is simple – clothing for 50 degree water and footwear for rock hopping, wading and swimming. The day starts at the first rapid and the group walks the white water rafting line down the right center. The water here is just above ankle deep. At the bottom of the first and all subsequent rapids, a long pool stretches forward. The group wades in and mixes chest deep walking with swimming up to the next shallow area which signals the start of the next rapid. In each rapid, key features are pointed out and shown to form fun, safe features or dangerous features to be avoided.

White Water Rafting Practice

The fifth and final part of training at Crab Apple for Monroe Bridge in Massachusetts is a practice trip with friends or family. A raft full of 6 paddlers is required for each guide and these willing “guinea pigs” white water raft for free for the day – good deal! We have learned that a complete practice trip alongside a regular commercial trip teaches new guides the flow of trips and allows trainees to ask questions of veteran guides between rapids. Further, taking friends or family on what can be a nerve-racking trip allows new guides to focus on the rapids as opposed to focusing on customer service. Practice white water rafting trips have been part of Deerfield River, Massachusetts guide training at Crab Apple since the early 90’s. For more information on our guide training or to schedule a white water rafting trip in Monroe Bridge Massachusetts please click here to contact us.

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