Print this page
Tuesday, 01 September 2009

The Ultimate Adventure: Skydiving, Riverboarding, and Rafting

Written by Lesley Boutilier
Rate this item
(0 votes)

What do you get when you combine the extreme adventure sports of whitewater rafting, riverboarding, and skydiving? It’s called the ultimate adrenaline rush and Millinocket, Maine is the only place in North America where you can do it all in the same weekend. Gone are the days of relaxing on a river, taking in the scenery from a comfy airplane seat, or paddling quietly in a canoe. New trends in travel include extreme adventure sports and pushing the limits. At the base of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak, I found Penobscot Adventures, Three Rivers Jump and Raft, and the experience of a lifetime! Rafting the Class V Penobscot River, riverboarding the whitewater rapids, and skydiving from 11,000 feet was the most insane, adrenaline-filled weekend of my life!

The Ultimate Adventure: Skydiving, Riverboarding, and Rafting, Millinocket, Maine, Adventure sports, skydiving maine, river boarding maine, Penobscot Adventures, Three Rivers Jump and Raft, Penobscot River, Lesley BoutilierWhitewater rafting is an ultimate experience by anyone’s standards, but the tough Class V Penobscot River has chutes, drops, and large holes that challenge both guide and guest alike. In exciting rapids like Exterminator, Cribworks, and the Nesowdnehunk Falls, I quickly learned that I could easily be in over my head, but the guides are experts and carefully selected to make the ride both safe and exciting. It is 13 miles of pure adrenaline, yet I still found the time to look up and enjoy the breath-taking scenery that surrounded me.

Before we even left the training waters, one guest paddled himself out of the raft, and we realized that rafting is not all about muscles or size. The white water was in my face and I was soaked to the bone, but I managed to stay in the raft. During the very little down time the Penobscot offers, I went for swim in the white waters.

The Ultimate Adventure: Skydiving, Riverboarding, and Rafting, Millinocket, Maine, Adventure sports, skydiving maine, river boarding maine, Penobscot Adventures, Three Rivers Jump and Raft, Penobscot River, Lesley BoutilierThe Penobscot River has long been a popular spot for whitewater rafting, but now Penobscot Adventures is kicking it up a notch and giving people a chance to run the rapids without the boat. It’s called riverboarding and Penobscot Adventures is the only outdoor adventure company in New England that does it.

 

After a day of rafting, my arms were tired and my back was tight, but we set out to reach the shore of the Penobscot and get our first look at the rapids from a boarder’s perspective. There were wetsuits, life jackets, helmets, and even fins to go with the boards, but the view was still intimidating. Seeing the water rushing and the white caps foaming looked dangerous; that’s why the trip started with a safety lesson.


We learned about currents and the all-important signals; including the panic signal of waving your arms frantically in the air – it seemed pretty straightforward. With the help of guides Karl and Mike, we finally began to tackle the whitewater. The first step was to swim across the river against a powerful current, which was not easy; it was more work than fun.

The Ultimate Adventure: Skydiving, Riverboarding, and Rafting, Millinocket, Maine, Adventure sports, skydiving maine, river boarding maine, Penobscot Adventures, Three Rivers Jump and Raft, Penobscot River, Lesley BoutilierThe ride down the rapids was intense. As the water smashed against my face and I missed the surf, I became more and more comfortable with the frightening situation. However, there’s really nothing that can prepare you for a wall of whitewater rushing at your head, and while it’s intense, I did it over and over again.

Riverboarding is relatively new in North America, but jumping off the raft and grabbing a board was nothing compared to the adventure that lay ahead. There is nothing natural about falling 11,000 feet through the sky, but I was going to give it a try with Skydive New England Jump and Raft.

 

The pages upon pages of waivers I had to sign before jumping proved skydiving is an extreme adventure sport. Then I had to watch a video that stressed the fact that I could die, and watch several other people take the plunge before I could jump myself, but the technicalities could never outweigh the natural high of putting yourself in the scariest situation imaginable and confronting that fear head on.

 

My heart pounded in my chest as I waited for the 20-minute flight away from Millinocket airport. If I thought about it, I wouldn’t do it. I didn’t want to overanalyze the situation. I jumped at the idea of skydiving, but now that I was in the plane, my inhabitations were taking over. But the fear deep in my chest was part of the thrill.


 

The Ultimate Adventure: Skydiving, Riverboarding, and Rafting, Millinocket, Maine, Adventure sports, skydiving maine, river boarding maine, Penobscot Adventures, Three Rivers Jump and Raft, Penobscot River, Lesley BoutilierThe door opened at 11,000 feet and my instructor, Pat, told me it was time to go. Leaving the plane was the hardest part, especially since I had a death grip on the door of the plane, but free-falling through the sky at 200km/h was exhilarating; it literally took my breath away. The wind felt like a cushion of air suspending me in space; it was more like I was floating than falling! Once the parachute opened, my instructor and I glided gently back to earth and I could see everything that Maine has to offer.

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Adventure: Skydiving, Riverboarding, and Rafting, Millinocket, Maine, Adventure sports, skydiving maine, river boarding maine, Penobscot Adventures, Three Rivers Jump and Raft, Penobscot River, Lesley BoutilierAlthough the total dive time, from exiting the plane to reaching the ground, was only six minutes, when I touched the ground, I was on top of the world. Leonardo da Vinci said, “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you long to return.” I’ve even considered taking up a career in skydiving.

Adventure sports and the pursuit of adrenaline fueled activities has become an increasingly sought after diversion from the 9 to 5 monotony of everyday life. Many people are embracing what nature has to offer by doing things like skydiving, riverboarding, and whitewater rafting. In the past, many people opted for just one adventure sport, but nowadays most people not only take it to the skies or the river, but they combine the two! Due to the massive uptake of extreme sports, many companies are developing whole new concepts such as Jump and Raft. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

© Lesley Boutilier

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

Related items