Monday, July 4, 2011

Whitewater rafting over the Fourth of July

I had so much fun whitewater rafting a couple of years ago with my friend Kurt Beereboom (Rafting the Colorado River) that when our friends and neighbors Rich and Diane Heintz proposed taking a rafting trip down Glenwood Canyon, I definitely wanted to be included. My enthusiasm must have been infectious because I managed to talk Nan into it, too. By this past Saturday morning, we were a group of eight: the Heintzes, Diane's daughter Bree and son Wes, Wes's girlfriend Rita, our friend and neighbor Mim, and Nan and me. We all met up at the Whitewater Rafting facility in Glenwood Springs and after a brief orientation, piled into a school bus with about 30 other rafters for a ride up to Carbondale. Apparently, the Colorado River is running dangerously high right now through Glenwood Canyon, with all the runoff from last season's record snowfall, so we would be doing a "three-fer" instead: the Crystal, Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers, for a total of about 18 miles.

I didn't know what to expect when we shoved off from the banks of the Crystal, but the water around my ankles sure was cold. Our guide Matt had us dig our canoe paddles in with gusto as we surged below the County Road 108 bridge and into the first set of rapids. Holy crap, I thought, as the raft disappeared into a big hole in the water and launched out the other end, thoroughly soaking Wes and me at the bow. After the shock of the cold water, all I could think was, Woohoo! We surged through subsequent holes at weird angles that had everybody else soaked and laughing.

The Crystal soon fed into the Roaring Fork, which was living up to its name and really moving. Matt had us dip our hands into the water to see that it was slightly warmer than before. Ever so slightly. We cruised through riffles, watching the bald eagles and herons that nest along the river and admiring the beautiful houses along the river that we could never see from the roads above.

We noticed a girl in one of the other rafts sitting on the bow and asked Matt what she was up to. He said she was "riding the bull" and he asked for volunteers from our group. Rich climbed up front and had the ride of a lifetime through the next set of rapids. Then it was Wes's turn and finally Rita's. After that, the river settled down again, and we started to wonder if that was it for the excitement. It was not. The river saved the best for last, and we were all thoroughly soaked again.

A little ways on, the Roaring Fork joined up with the Colorado River, which felt immense and heavy. The water was slightly greener and ever so slightly warmer, and it smelled lightly of dead fish. A few hundred yards later, we were at Whitewater Rafting world headquarters again. We pulled the raft out, handed in our paddles and wandered up the bank to the parking lot to retrieve towels and dry clothes from our cars. After changing, we met up in the photo room to see the photos Matt had told us would be waiting. Nobody remembered seeing any photographers on any of the banks or bridges, but whoever it was sure took some great shots. Mim purchased the photo CD, which is where the images in this blog post are from, and we headed out for an early dinner and some well-deserved beers at the Glenwood Brew Pub.

If you've never tried whitewater rafting, you don't know what you're missing. I used to think it was no big deal, but now I'm a convert. It's a blast!

1 comment:

water rafting Cagayan de oro said...

what a wonderful way of spending the 4th of July! In water rafting, you can actually feel the sense of freedom. it's so great!