|This was right before we geared up and ran the course.|
Most people from around here (Northwest Ohio) have never heard of the East Race Waterway. I'd bet that most people in Northern Indian have no idea what it is either.
If live in northern Ohio and you've ever wanted to go whitewater rafting without having to drive to Pennsylvania or Michigan or Kentucky or Tennessee or West Virginia then head to downtown South Bend Indiana's East Race Waterway! The ERW is a man-made whitewater course that is open to the public on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
No experience required...although this is a self-guided course so you're rafting at your own risk...but...you're only looking at class II rapids...so no big.
A MUST MUST add to your summer adventuring list of things to do!! $6 bucks per person to go down this course, which also includes use of the South Bend Parks and Rec equipment (raft, paddle, life-jacket, helmet). It takes maybe about 10 minutes to run the whole course...an no worries...every so many feet there's a trained professional with a throw-rope waiting on the sideline to help you if you get into trouble. Except in my case...which I'll tell you about more here in a second.
|This was after we ran the course...notice how much less dry we are...and maybe slightly more haggard looking.|
Funny thing here is...this year...I was determined to experience the ERW again!! It hadn't rained for weeks....but the ONE DAY we are able to go (which happened to be a Sunday) it stormed buckets...and eventually the course was closed down due to lightning in the area. Ironic. But hey...at least they were still open and running during this blasted Covid year from hell.
Chris, Isabella, Isaac and I got to run the course one time in a raft...and then I ran the course a second time in a ducky before they closed the course for the weather safety factor. Everyone had a blast...and some fun stories came out of the experience (like Isaac accidentally whacking Chris in the helmet in between paddle strokes throughout the run...which is really the main reason you're required to where a helmet...to protect yourselves from yourselves...hah!)
I had run this course years and YEARS before and it was very interesting to see what had changed and what hadn't over those years. The course looked exactly the same...but one of the big changes...and at least in my mind...was if you went down this course by yourself in their 2-person ducky they no longer offered kayak paddles (the double ended sort of paddle versus the single canoe paddle type you see me holding in the photo above). Why does this matter you may ask?? Well...I'll tell you. It takes some serious finesse to effectively maneuver your own boat having to either adjust your stroke type (power, direction, angle) or switch from side to side...in order to control the direction and speed of your boat. Why might speed matter you make ask? Well...I'll tell you. Whitewater comes in all shapes and sizes....and there's one particular type that can be a bear....and that one is a recirculating wave...that is one that pours over and over itself like a washing machine turned on its side. On the edge of the particular recirculating wave that I discovered on THIS day...has a reverse sucking sort of power to it...so much so that if you didn't have enough momentum to get through it...you guessed it...it sucks you right back into it. Which happens to be exactly what happened to me. I saw this rapid coming....tried to gain as much speed as I could (which I could tell was no where near enough) I paddled with all the gusto I could create with my one-sided-paddle and just as I crested the edge of the wave...I could feel my boat just simply stop....hold for one second and then reverse suck right back in. The only thing I could think to do...was paddle harder (which in retrospect was futile...nature is gonna win these sorts of tug-o-wars 100% of the time...but what I SHOULD have tried was to simply get as low in the boat as possible and try to ride it like a surf board...I'll try that next year when we return for more adventure)...My futile act of trying to brute-strength-out-of-this predicament...failed. surprise. My boat flipped, my feet went straight into the air, my head went under water, I get tossed around under water by the force of this wave and then I shoot out and get caught up in the current flowing downstream.
Here was my first reaction...Look for a rope to be thrown at you. But when I got my bearings and looked around...there WERE NO helpful whitewater crises professional workers anywhere in site?? I floated through the next rapid and started looking around for where my boat was...my paddle was still tightly gripped in my right hand. A few seconds passed then I realized...well...guess I'm going to have to save myself. (there's some sort of life-message wrapped up in that) So I did what NO experienced whitewater rafter should ever do...I tried to drag my feet on the bottom of this channel to slow myself down...for the mere reason that my boat was floating down stream behind me. (This was when I learned that being man-made...there were NO under-water hazards to cause foot-entrapment, just slimy concrete on which I was sliding because of the force of the current. Note here also that the water level was shallow enough that I could stand up and my head would be out of water no problem. This was when my boat caught up to me and after 2 tries I jumped in...and continued on down that course like a champ-who-could-save-herself would!!
I was a bit shaken by my little swim the ERW experience...but always always one learns a lot about oneself after crossing through life's little challenging pathways like these. I suppose this is EXACTLY why I seek out such experiences...because in the end...I come out a better person for it. Not to mention have really fun stories to tell!!
GO BE DO!!! Adventure!
If you're looking for something super fun and definitely out-of-the-ordinary to do with your friends or family...head to downtown South Bend, Indiana for this fantastical fun adventure!!
for more info see https://eastracewaterway.gr8.com/