My day out with the NOC

Have you ever thought, “Man, college would be so much better if we didn’t have to go to class”? I was driving down Hwy 74 yesterday when it dawned on me-summer break is the college away from college. There’s still very little responsibility, and as long as we pass in the fall, we’re good.I was thinking, “What should I do with all this free time?” when I gazed at a sign that read, “Raft down the Nantahala,” to which I replied, “Ok.”I took a handful of my friends past Bryson City to the Nantahala Outdoor Center on Hwy 74W. Carrying the typical tourist attire, complete with water shoes, we checked in at the front desk next to the river and signed our lives away. Literally.After watching an introduction video describing what to do if your best friend falls out of the boat, is capsized by rapids, or gets their foot stuck in-between rocks and ultimately dies, we loaded a shuttle bus with about thirty other people who embarked on the adventure with us.My friends and I decided to take a guide with us. It was only $5 more, a fair price to pay to ensure our safety and our sanity.The Nantahala River, which is in the middle of the Nantahala Gorge, may only be class II-III rapids, ideal for beginners and intermediates, but it’s an almost constant rapid. Very little paddling was involved, which made my day a lot easier.At one part in our trip, my friend Jennifer fell out, and I envisioned the computer-generated figure in the video and scrambled to help her. I still can’t figure out how she fell out; we barely skimmed a rock. At any rate, with help from other guides, she was back on board, laughing with the rest of us (we still pick on her about it).There’s a class III rapid at the very end called “Nantahala Falls.” The guides liked to talk it up like it was some huge waterfall we were going to conquer. Though it wasn’t as big or bad as I had expected, several boats capsized and the NOC was right there to capture it on film.The NOC is notorious for taking professional pictures of the hardest rapid of each trip to purchase at the end of the day. It was tempting to buy, but I didn’t have an extra 8 bucks to spend on a picture. Besides, I can find it on the Internet at being, if you ever have a chance to get away from work or class this summer, take a trip to the NOC and raft down the Nantahala River. It’s only about a 30-minute drive from campus and tons of fun! For beginners, I recommend rafting with a group of friends and a guide. This will run you about $40 a person.For those who are a little more adventurous, you may rent a “duckie” instead. A duckie is a one-person raft, almost like a kayak, and is much more challenging than a regular raft. Duckies will cost you around $50 to rent.The NOC has stations all over western North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Class IV and V rapids are mainly in Tennessee and are more expensive.All day and overnight trips are also offered, but I’m too afraid to look at the price. If you really want to know, visit and click on rafting.Next time you’re laying around on a lazy summer day, consider the alternative choices. We’re sitting on a gold mine, here; use your resources.