by Sarah Shaffer

It was a sunny day on the biggest day of the year 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 cobble together child care, ditch cleaning the house, working, errands etc. It was ladies day on the river and these mommas were going to take advantage of what was promising to be a fantastic day.

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.  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 got 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 vision 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 quiet nature about him. Kind, thoughtful and knowledgeable. I tried to 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 misfits. 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 of us bombarded him with questions during our time on the river. How long had he rafted before he was confident in his ability to 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 rapids with waves  far higher than a pickup truck. During the spurts of questions Shane answered each question thoroughly and yet was still able to tell us to pay attention to the upcoming rapids. 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.

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 by the end of our rafting adventure not one person in all three boats had fallen out of the boat during our wet and wild. We misfit moms were just fine with that — we all had kids we preferred not to orphan just yet.  We rode the bus back to the office as stalwart staff and happy newbie rafters relived the highlights of the rafting day. Once back at the Osprey’s headquarters, we changed out of our wetsuits and gear. Then we enjoyed a slideshow of the day taken by Osprey’s photographer, Spencer Flodin, who had followed our wild ride from the banks of the river, snapping some serious action shots.

It was a memorable end to a memorable day. All of us were alternately smiling and gritting our teeth as the pictures flashed by. It was a day to remember … with pictures to help us 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.


Information about Osprey Rafting:

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

Osprey Rafting Company is the only locally based rafting company offering high-adventure, class-IV rafting. They offer family floats for people of all ages, scenic floats, wildlife viewing floats, river tubing, guided paddleboarding, river equipment rentals, and river guide training in the spring. These floats are for all ability levels. They also offer September raft trips on the Tieton River near Yakima. Osprey Rafting Company phone number is (509) 548-6800.

-Osprey has private put-in locations and take-out locations with live local music on Saturdays & a BBQ offered with most rafting trips. Prices for trips range from $55-$111 depending on the trip chosen.

This post was originally published 7/3/2020. 

About The Author

Executive Director

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

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