1,2,3, SPLASH. Ice cold glacial water ran from the bottom of my spine up around my neck as our group fell backwards in the flowing water of the River Inn.
This was our introduction to white water rafting near Innsbruck, Austria and we weren't even in the raft yet.
Ready for the Rapids of the River Inn
After Kev's unique way of acclimatising use to the extremities of the River Inn, whose source lies high in the Swiss Alps near St Moritz, we dragged the raft into the water and climbed aboard for a 90 minute adventure.
We were eased into the ride with a couple of gentle rapids and for us to get used to Kev bellowing instructions such as "Paddle", "Backwards" and "Und Stop".
Some of the more adventurous of the group were given the opportunity to jump out and try their hand at getting back in the raft. Kev had made it look easy but needless to say those who tried struggled.
The scenery around the river was spectacular, with giant snow-capped mountains the the left and rolling green hills to the right. Ahead of us stood an old wooden bridge with a church steeple off to the right and made for the perfect postcard picture.
The steady sound of water flowing was only interrupted by the clatter of a high speed train shooting by along the right hand bank.
Heading into the unknown
We were lulled into a nice coast along the river, having a bit of a chat amongst ourselves, when we heard the faint murmurings of the power of water crashing against the rocks. As we turned a bend in the river we got a glimpse of the rapids ahead.
"And paddle!" was the instruction as we gained speed heading into the grade 3 rapids. I found myself half concentrating of keeping in time with the person in front and half on looking ahead as to what was coming. As we hit the rapids I found myself paddling thin air as the boat lept from the water.
When we came out the other side we were in fits of giggles both through the rush and the sight of each other drenched by the oncoming wall of water.
Tequila Left Side!
One of the best parts of the adventure was a game Kev called "Tequila" which involved one side of the raft leaning backwards to dip their head into the water. What we didn't know, but the other side did, was that a great wave was behind us. Having just about recovered from my earlier encounter with the ice cold water, I then found myself reacquainted with it and what felt like half the river shooting up my nose. Cue the laughter from Scott, Kate and Oliver!
During another calm patch of the River Inn, Kev told us a little about himself and it was a surprise to learn that he was a snowboard instructor in The Remarkables ski resort near Queenstown, New Zealand at the same time I was learning to ski at the same resort. It really is a small world.
Kev would break off mid-sentence to issue an instruction in order to position ourselves for another set of rapids. Crashing through each set would see us bounce from side to side, digging our feet further into the raft to ensure we stayed aboard.
Floating to the end
As we floated along the final stretch of river, Kev pointed out a water mark where the level is measured. At 2.5 metres, the river was relatively low but when the river levels increase so does the speed of the rapids so it seems we got off relatively lightly.
The 90 minutes were up and every one of us enjoyed the ride. We thanked Kev for making the ride even more enjoyable and we headed off for lunch talking off stepping up to a grade 5 set of rapids, Zambezi here we come!
All photographs are supplied by Matt Stockman Photography.