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Alberton Gorge – A Real Montana Adventure

Photo courtesy of Tropewell/Flickr

If you’ve lived in Missoula long enough, you have probably floated the Clark Fork or the Blackfoot at some point. My friends and I have loaded up our inner tubes and floating coolers dozens of times; we’re always up for a nice, leisurely trip down the river.

This past weekend, however, I took the plunge — quite literally, it turns out — and agreed to float the Alberton Gorge on a river raft.

It was a total peer-pressure moment. I’m not much of a daredevil, and I know that whitewater rafting can be pretty dangerous, especially when you’re not on a guided trip. My friends convinced me that our “guide” was experienced enough to get us safely through the rapids because he had done so “like, 50 times or something.”

In hindsight, he actually did a pretty good job. As we came up on our first big set of rapids, I could feel the panic setting in. The rational part of me wanted to jump ship and swim to safety before watching my friends row their way to certain demise.

But, our guide kept everyone calm and told us exactly what to do as we navigated our way through the violent, crashing water. The adrenaline rush got more intense with each stretch of whitewater — some of which featured ominous nicknames such as “Tumbleweed” and “Boat-eater.”

We made a couple of stops along the way, at a beautiful sandy beach — perfect for a little mid-trip picnic and swim — and at a huge cliff that some of our braver passengers decided to use as a diving board.

I’m proud to report that after a bit of encouragement — and a lot more peer pressure — I, too, manned up and took the leap. (Turns out, that whole, “If your friends jumped off a cliff…” saying that your mom used to pull is a complete load of crap.)

All in all, it was a really fun day. If you ever have the chance to float with someone experienced, I would highly recommend it. Otherwise, there are plenty of guided rafting trips available for those willing to pay — and my guess is that it would be worth every penny.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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