by Sarah Shaffer

It was a sunny day on the biggest day of the year thus far for water levels on the Wenatchee River. Over 17,000 cubic feet per second. Boom, it was going to be a big day, a day to send it! I met a few girlfriends to go rafting with Osprey Rafting Company in Leavenworth, WA. This was a feat in itself as all four of us are mommas. We each had 24 hours to scramble together child care, ditch cleaning the house, working, errands etc. It was ladies day on the river and these mommas were going to have a fantastic day with amazing guides and fantastic staff at Osprey.

Little did we know that this was the guides most exciting day of the year thus far. They knew it was big and the rest of us were surprised by their uber stoke level when we stumbled out of the car still collecting ourselves from getting off “mom duty” and introduced ourselves. First we signed a waiver, were told how to wear the appropriate gear provided by the company, wetsuit and booties, splash jackets and a PFD (personal flotation device). Then we were loaded in the bus and transported to the put in location just down the road.

At this point we were given the run down on hand signals, how to paddle, how not to knock someone’s teeth out with the “t-grip” and all the crisis mode plans if we were to be ejected from the boat. A bit of nervousness seemed to take over at this moment while I could see sleeper logs briskly floating past in my peripheral along the rushing water. Once all information was taken in, we loaded into our rafts. There was the momma boat with us four girls and Shane was our guide. We were the middle boat among three.

Shane had a quite nature about him. Kind, thoughtful and knowledgeable. I couldn’t help but try and understand how he “read” the water knowing which direction to go and which way to steer clear of. He was a powerful guide in the back, always so calculated with the amount of strokes needed from his crew of misfit mommas. Somehow we made it through each rapid without being launched from the boat. These were HUGE waves. Each set of rapids named something different. The names of the rapids that stuck in my excited brain were Granny’s Panties, Cupcake (my favorite), and Boulder Bend.

Where did the front of our raft go?

Kate Bonnett paddling like a champ in the front (head bandana).

Shane gave us some information as each momma asked various questions throughout our time on the river. How long did he raft for before feeling confident that he could read the water? What kind of water formation was that called? What was the most exciting thing he saw while guiding in Alaska? The questions went on for hours intermittently between amazing rapids with waves as high as my head if not a bit higher. During the spurts of questions Shane answered each question thoroughly and yet was still able to tell us to pay attention for upcoming rapids and areas we would need to focus for. If I had to guess, I think he was specifically talking to me, I have been “told” I can be quite the chatter box. This is especially true when I am highly caffeinated, which I was that day (apologies Shane).

The momma crew taking it in the face big time. Sarah Shaffer in front in the blue, Mandy McLaren middle (with paddle overhead), and Ashley Coke in back (with the hat). Shane the guide in back, calm and steady.

Surprisingly at the end of our rafting adventure not one single person in all three boats had fallen out of the boat during what was a wild and awesome ride. I think the misfit moms were just fine with that, as we all knew that we had kids to get back to and we didn’t want to have to take a swim and remember the crisis mode plans taught to us a few hours earlier. We rode the bus back to the office with the various wonderful staff on board and newbie rafters alike, happy conversations brewing about the various highlights of the rafting day. Once at the Osprey Raft office we changed out of our wetsuits and gear. Then enjoyed an awesome slideshow from Osprey’s photographer Spencer who had followed us throughout our wild fun ride along the banks of the river snapping some serious action shots.

It was a great way to end a memorable day with three lovely mommas, to see us smiling, sometimes gritting teeth in these pictures as we were working hard to make it over a wave. We can look back on these pictures for years to come. It was a day to remember.

Pictured from our crew: Shane our guide in the back, Ashley Coke in the back (with the hat), Mandy McLaren middle (in front of Ashley), Kate Bonnett (in the bandana) in front, and Sarah Shaffer in the blue jacket on the far side in back.

Many thanks to Osprey Rafting Company out of Leavenworth, WA for making us feel welcomed, like family and for the professional, fun and safe nature of their guides and staff. We knew we were in good hands that day and that made these moms all the more stoked to be on the water enjoying the biggest water of the year. Send it!


Information about Osprey Rafting:

-All photos within this article were provided by Osprey Rafting’s photographer Spencer Flodin.

-Osprey Rafting Company is the only rafting company in the area that can offer high adventure class IV rafting. They offer family floats for ages 4-104, scenic floats, wildlife viewing floats, river tubing, guided paddleboarding, river equipment rental and river guide training in the spring. These floats are for all ability levels. They also offer September rafting on the Tieton River in Yakima.

-Osprey has private put-in locations and take-out locations with live local music on Saturdays & a BBQ offered with most rafting trips.

About The Author

Executive Director

Sarah is fortunate to have her dream job as the Executive Director for WenatcheeOutdoors.org. Her interests include people, nature, wildlife and getting her sweat on outside. Alpine rock climbing, mountain biking, nordic skiing are her outdoor passions. When she is being domestic, she enjoys gardening, baking, utilitarian sewing and home remodel projects. Sarah is the mother of a toddler which keeps her busy and happy on a daily basis. Activities she would like to pursue that would be new to her are skate skiing, kayaking and backcountry skiing.

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