1. Fresh Air
It’s more than just a feeling; it’s scientific fact. You feel better in fresh air, away from smog and dust and chemicals. Out in the whitewater, where the harshest particles in the air are wavetop spray and lingering threads of dawn fog, you can almost feel your lungs growing cleaner with every deep breath. The crisp spice of fir needles mingles with the sharp, indescribable smell of snowmelt along the shoreline, chasing away even the strongest memories of city grime; the world feels at once brand new, clean and bright, and spun from uncounted centuries of rainstorms and running water.
2. No Emails
When you’re plunging through rapids in the Washington mountains you are, for once, unreachable by that most aggravating of modern communication methods. Your boss can’t email you asking for more weekend hours in the office; your coworkers can’t ask three more questions about a spreadsheet that they could read for themselves if they’d just bothered to show up to the last meeting; your family members can’t forward yet another email chain from the neighbor down the street that they’ve been passive-aggressively feuding with for the last three decades. In the whitewater, away from the bombardment of ads and “urgent” memos, your only concern is the moment.
Friendships forged on the river are friendships that last. When you go through the rapids together—paddling frantically for a standing wave, scraping your way through a hole, threading the needles of a boulder field—you bond with the people in your boat in a way that is often lacking in everyday life. When you’re on the river you know, with the solid trust only experience can bring, that these people will have your back when it matters. It doesn’t matter where you come from—when you’re on the river, all that matters is how well you paddle through the next stretch of whitewater.
4. Better Food
The food itself probably isn’t better, per se, but it sure tastes amazing. There’s nothing like coming off a river trip and pulling out your packed lunch or camp stove and dinner on the shore. Just the location is often incredible—the perfect flat rock perched above a Washington whitewater run or hidden crescent of warm sand. After a long day of paddling, though, everything tastes better. Even granola bars taste good when you’re just through the rapids and absolutely ravenous. Between the location and the hunger of a group of whitewater rafters, the simple camp meal you make with your friends beside the river can outshine any restaurant.