US National Whitewater Center

Nate’s station occasionally puts on “social gatherings” to “promote morale.” This weekend, they paid for passes, threw a picnic and arranged whitewater rafting trips at the US National Whitewater Center (


The USNWC is located on around 300 acres of wooded property just outside Charlotte. They have a man-made river with 2 stretches of “rapids” and 2 collecting pools. Their facilities are the training center  for the 2012 London Olympic canoe slalom team. They also have trails for walking or biking, ziplines, rope courses and flat-water activities like stand up paddle-boarding.

We had a blast! It was fun to meet Nate’s coworkers and enjoy being outside for most of the day.

We signed up for the 10:30AM rafting trip. We ended up on a raft with 2 meteorologists, John and Keith, and Keith’s wife Laura Bree. John and I were elected by our boat-mates to be in the front of the boat, Nate and Laura were on the second row and Keith was on the back row. (There was a raft guide at the very back.) The trip was so much fun! We did two laps around the “tame” side of the course and two laps around the “less tame” side of the course. Of course, we all got soaked.

Rafters in the top collecting pond. These are not us.

After changing out of our wet clothes, we went up on top of a hill and had a hamburger lunch. It was delicous!

Next up, we went to the their adventure course. It includes 4 different ropes courses and a “climb-to-zip” little zip line. We started off on the “easiest” ropes course. It had an inside track which was more difficult and an outside track that was less difficult. We did the inside track. First, we climbed up a rope net to a platform then across two small platforms supsended on cables to another platform. After that came a big step down onto a suspended beam we had to walk across to another big step up onto another platform. After that, we had to shimmy along a single cable with some handholds spaced along it. The final obstacle was a set of small beams all loosely fixed together before climbing down another rope net.

Just before our first ropes course!

Still feeling good, we decided to kick it up a notch and try the next ropes course. This one was a lot more difficult! The first obstacle was walking across a pretty short beam to a platform without any handholds besides your own rope. Almost all the other obstacles on this course were walking across a single cable with a variety of handholds. That is definitely not my favorite kind of obstacle, in part because it definitely feels the least stable and also because it makes my feet hurt! I can feel the pressure of that cable through my shoes!

After the second ropes course, my fingers were killing me (from all that hanging on for dear life) so we decided to stop the climbing type activities for a while and do something a little more low-key.

We picked “eco-trekking” which is a lot like geocaching. They give you a little GPS unit with 2 sets of pre-programmed spots to look for. One involved finding little boxes planted around the inner area of the park and the other involved finding little orange clips hanging on trees along the trails. It ended up being about a mile long hike through some really pretty woods! My only complaint is that you share a lot of the trails with mountain bikers, which could be kind of scary when they came zooming down a hill you were climbing up. There wasn’t a lot of time to get out of their way into a safe place (as opposed to into whatever clump of bushes you were next to.)

Nate punching our card to show we’d found one of the waypoints.

We got home around 5 that evening and were totally pooped! We lazed around in front of the TV for a while and ended up in bed around 9!

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