This past weekend I headed down to Gowanda to do some whitewater rafting with Paths, Peaks & Paddles, it just so happens that they also own a whitewater guide business as well, Catt Rafting Adventures. I met up with a group from St. Stephen's Bethlehem U.C.C on in Amherst and went down the river with them. After filling out the necessary paperwork, everyone was suited up in wetsuits, PFDs, helmets and given a paddle. From the Catt Rafting building in Gowanda it was only a ten minute bus ride up-stream to the put in area where everyone was given a safety briefing on how to stay in the boat, how to swim if you don't stay in the boat, and how to fish someone out of the water if they take a little dip.

 It was finally time to hit the water with out guides Orren, Chris, Kyle, Dave and Mark, who quickly gave everyone in their boat a quick lesson on paddling and commands. As we headed downstream all of the guides (I had Dave in my boat) are experts in not only rafting / kayaking, but also on the entire area of Cattaraugus Creek, telling us about geology of the gorge and wildlife. We were able to see a Bald Eagle nest, but unfortunately, no one was home that day.

After a short stop on the bank to warm up with some hot soup for lunch, it was back on the water. It was warmer in the boat while we were paddling than when we stopped for lunch or to scout rapids. In fact, it was actually snowing the day that we went. Was it cold? Yes. Was it wet? Yes. Did everyone have a great time? Absolutely! A few people went for a swim, luckily it was on the last rapid of the day and were able to get back and get changed fairly quickly. Once we made it to the take out, everyone helped unload the rafts and headed back across the street to the Catt Rafting building to change back into dry clothes and warm up. The crew from St. Stephen's brought a nice big crock pot of homemade chili that definitely hit the spot. The chili was washed down with some hot cocoa and a few hot dogs grilled up over a charcoal grill by Orren.

It was a great day and everyone had a blast, sure it was a little on the chilly side with the temps in the mid-30's and the wind in the gorge, but as soon as you are in the boat and paddling, it all goes away. If you want to get into some big water here in WNY, you have to go in the Spring while there is still run-off and the river is up. Not interested in getting wet and cold, check out the inflatable duckie trips that Catt Rafting offers in the summer, there really is a trip for anyone. Remember, any day on a river is better than a day anywhere else.

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