How to ride White Water with Journey Outdoors

We love Journeying Outdoors In Nature in all forms but one that holds a special place in our hearts is White Water.

There’s something about the magic, that accompanies natures original roller coaster, that draws us in. The adrenalin that pumps through our bodies, as we hear the roar of a rapid approaching from around the next bend. The grin that spreads across our faces upon successful completion, or if mishap avails, as we float down amongst our belongings, laughing.

The sacred wilderness we have discovered, often only accessible by river. Secret canyons and ancient hot springs, unknown to those who do not dare venture downstream to find them. We want to share these special places with you.

We have learnt many lessons from whitewater adventures, its beauty often disguising its power and wisdom. Here are our top three:


Go With The Flow

It may be a phrase associated with “hippie” advice, and one firmly adopted by the Hawaiians to match their lava-like attitude of existence, but nothing can be truer than this when it comes to paddling rivers (and negotiating life). If you go with the flow, or where natural forces are taking you, it is much easier to succeed than if you try to fight against your surroundings.

In a river, this phrase often refers to following where the most water is headed, as this is more likely to carry you through the obstacles, because you are working with the current. The important thing to remember is that in life, your “flow” may be vastly different to that of the majority, but it will be a path that when you are on it, feels effortless; as you are supported towards your destination by what is around you. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up doing what everyone else is doing, because it feels normal, so therefore is justified as being right.

Just like the main channel of a rapid can be funnelled through the dangers of an overhanging tree, or keeper hole, the majority can often be mislead. So keep your peripherals open and an eye out for a sneaky side channel, because that may be where you end up finding YOUR own flow.



Look at the Positives

Ever find yourself thinking about what you should have or could have done in a situation? Or catch yourself reminding a friend not to do something because this, this and that might go wrong?

It so easy to end up only looking at the fear and danger in a situation and this can often overshadow the good. Occasionally, when we stop to look at the bigger rapids I hear gasps and groans as people tend to spot the scary obstacles first. It is much more effective if you can channell that attention towards the positives, rather identifying where the water flows freely and where you intend to go.

When we paddle a rapid we try to look for these features, because in general, where your attention goes, your energy flows. If we paddle a rapid and spend the whole time focusing on the rocks and holes we must avoid, more times than not we end up in them. Its like when you carry something precious and concentrate on not spilling it, this energy is much better funnelled into reminding yourself that you will carry it successfully, than being wasted on predicting possible disasters. So look at the positives, and you will find a way through, rather than giving energy and attention to making the negatives look more overwhelming. The river, like life, is full of obstacles, that are best conquered with your mind on your side, fertilising your garden of self belief..

Be flexible and open to changing plans

Some great advice we have gathered from a fellow whitewater instructor is to:  “Always have a plan B…..and C and D”. She often reminds paddlers as they stop to scout a rapid, standing on the river bank planning a route through the rocks that lie ahead. On river, it can be very easy to put all your energy into planning to a tee the best way through a set of obstacles.

Then once you start paddling, you can often find yourself in a completely different part of the rapid, purely due to a few unexpected bumps and bumbles. This is where all planning goes out the window and your ability to be in the moment, communicate well and draw on good coping mechanisms will get you through. Similarly I find this in life, we often get so caught up in making sequential plans yet it to only takes one cog in the chain to jam and we find ourselves pulled to a grinding halt or taken off in a totally different direction.

So remember to be flexible, and do your best to adapt to what is happening right now. Even if you end up paddling backwards, or into unchartered territory, if you stay calm, positive and open to making new plans, you will put yourself in good stead to make it through unscathed, and a better person for the experience.

So as you can see white-water, or wise-water as we like to call it, has plenty of lessons to teach us. If you think this is something you would like to learn, sign up for our Introduction to Wild Water sessions through She Went Wild. We look forward to having you JOIN Us on an adventure sometime soon.


Journey Outdoors In Nature was created by three Wild Ladies: Jemma, Laura & Tegan. Laura has been exploring rivers since she was tiny, initially on inner tubes, then upgrading to kayaks when she did a course with her mum as an 8 year old. She followed on to become a river guide in Africa instead of going to Schoolies. She has since paddled many remote rivers around the world, including the Upper Amazon and regularly guides groups in Northern NSW.. Jemma has taught and participated in flat water paddling adventures for over ten years, recently applying her skills to moving water and enjoying the extra excitement the rapids bring. Tegan fell in love with this way of travel and the wilderness lifestyle on a Nymboida River trip a few years ago, and has since worked hard to become a qualified guide, with the intention of sharing the magic of white water journeys with others. We look forward to you JOINing us on a river sometime soon!