By Susan Hollingsworth

Every human possesses the desire to live in a state of pure indulgence and adventure.  This could be expressed by devouring a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, sneaking into the neighborhood pool for a midnight dip, or speeding up to make the yellow light.Springhouse Cellars, Hood River, OR

In the Columbia River Gorge, indulgence and adventure are expected. No, they are required.

Spending your days in such a pure state of bliss might be difficult to imagine, but there is help.  Guidance is necessary with so many award-winning wineries, exhilarating activities and exquisitely prepared meals.

Begin with Whitewater and Wine, two activities that epitomize the Pacific Northwest’s epic play, and excessive pleasure.

Packaged trips take practically all the labor out of chosing where to start, leaving a clean and smooth entrance into this lavish lifestyle.

White Salmon River, Wet Planet Whitewater

Starting your trip on the Mt. Adams side of the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state, you will find a river called the White Salmon.

Harnessing the river’s ability to pass through nature’s most spectacular places, rafting the White Salmon River combines a volcanic basalt gorge tour with the country’s steepest commercial waterfall. Beauty and the Beast.

Floating on glacial waters, recently escaped from Mt. Adam’s year-round snowpack, rafting this whitewater legend reminds anyone of the surge in adrenaline provided by a shot of the outdoors. Guides at Wet Planet Whitewater Center can attest to the benefits gained from a frequent dose of whitewater and scenery. They are some of the most expeirenced indulgers in the entire gorge.

Just as you think the whitewater grows tired, becoming less and less chaotic, Husum Falls chops off the river bed with a 10-ft ledge, a little ‘thank you very much’ from adventure gods.Husum Falls on the White Salmon River, Washington

There is no better way to tranistion from the rush of joy inherent in a whitewater rating trip than to head to the world of wine tasting.

Following your whitewater rafting trip, you will move over to the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge to the small town where indulgence and adventure run the show: Hood River.

Springhouse Cellar, located on the river’s edge just in town, sets the backdrop for the emergence of your inner child of indulgence. Housed in a renovated cannery, award-winning wines here flow from the tap and prove the bounty of Northwest farms. Choose from a Savignon Blanc, Viogner, Cherry Ort Dessert Wine and many more classic and obscure forms of the fermented grape. Springhouse produces ten small lot, handcrafted Northwest wines every year.  A decadent lunch of baguette style sandwiches, pasta salad and fruit compliment your increasingly high tastes as you continue to relax into your perfect Pacific Northwest day.

Wine in the tap room at Springhouse Cellars, Hood River ORNational Georgraphic Travel, one of the foremost experts on unrestrained satisfaction, has voted the Columbia River Gorge region as one of the world’s top destinations (6th place out 133 that made the cut).  They highlight the area’s natural beauty, the quaint and accomidating towns and the free-flowing wine.  What better way to combine all three than in a Wine and Whitewater trip.

The Whitewater and Wine rafting trip can be booked through Wet Planet Whitewater Center, the gorge’s leading whitewater outfitter and specialty trip organizer.  From wedding parties to corporate events, the Wine and Whitewater trip will allow anyone to kick their feet up and experience the wonder of the Pacific Northwest.

Now, a proper toast is in order: to living one’s life without moderation.

Writer and Instructor, Susan Hollingsworth, covers activities, news and special deals throughout the Columbia River Gorge