Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Roxie Mountain High: Day 3 Roiling On The River
At first we couldn't figure out how to even get there from where we were. We asked one local who asked us if we were in a rental car and we said no. He then said, that he wouldn't drive anything except a 4WD or a rental car over the "Phantom Road". We asked someone else! Turns out, Phantom road is an unpaved "short cut" between Cripple Creek and Canon City, where the rafting adventure was to begin. We look the long way round.
We went with the same rafting outfitter that Bick had used twenty years prior. WiverWunners, if you are Elmer Fudd. I wouldn't use them again, but that was just because of our guide. He was a total asshat - none of the other rafts/paddlers got the kind of harsh, rude and smartass lip that he gave us. He nearly ruined the trip for me and he and I did have words. If Bick chose to tip him, that's his business, but he didn't get a nickel from me. Okay, enough of that.
Let me say that I've never whitewater rafted. Hell, I've never even tubed down the Guadalupe. But I did envision this as more of a float trip, which it would have been, had there not been for the amount of rain storms and flash flooding that had been happening in the prior two weeks. The river was up - not to June melt-off levels, but high for an August run. So during the safety briefing, the staff wants to make sure we get into our life vests properly. Hell, it's just five snappy things! But no, they cinch you into that puppy like it's an 18 hour Playtex girdle. Know why? Because they need to be able to grab the shoulders of the life vest and pull you back into the raft should you go overboard! I'm beginning to get the idea that this isn't the Lazy River at Splashtown. There were four rafts from this outfitter on this trip and one person did go over in the drink.
We get all suited up and in a raft. There are 6 in our raft, Bick and me, Rick and Janet and their 12 year old twins, Kassie and Kody. And away we go. The scenery is just breathtaking. I'd never been to The Royal Gorge, and to be honest, I was so focused on the river that I didn't spend a lot of time looking at anything but Bick's backside, trying to time my next stroke to his. Jeez, talk about a full-body workout. Between using your entire body to paddle, your lower body was constantly pressing against parts of the raft to keep yourself IN the raft. You sort of wedge your front foot up under a part of the boat and your back foot against a piece of the raft that is behind you and sort of scissor your legs together, using pressure to keep wedged in. By the time we exited the raft three hours and a half hours later, I was spent. It was spectacular - a class 3/4 run. I'd do it again in a heartbeat and I'd look around a little more, as the Royal Gorge is another one of nature's stunning displays.
The last half hour or so of the trip really is just a float, after leaving the rapids. And during that time, I did get cold (I didn't rent a wetsuit, it wasn't necessary) and I think having that much adrenaline leaving my body, I almost went into some sort of shock - I got the shakes so bad that I'm sure everyone around me could hear and see my teeth chattering! Now doesn't that all sound like fun? Trust me, it really was, but both Bick and I were glad we hadn't signed up for the whole day trip.
We did, however, stop in Canon City to buy some Ben-Gay, as my little first aid kit of Aleve, Neosporin, Claretin and pantiliners was no match for the mighty Arkansas River. We were also seriously re-thinking our decision to camp that night. I would have paid a fortune for a hot tub, a massage and a king sized bed. But we stayed at Camp Relaxation - although there was one funny moment. So you can't really stand up upright in the tent. It's the middle of the night and nature is calling to the both of us. So we are moaning and groaning (and not in that good way) and trying to crawl out of the tent - which is pointed downhill, I might add. Honest to goodness, I thought I was going to run to the bottom of the valley before I finally got my back working well enough to straighten up so that I could stop!
The unfortunate part is that we didn't get any pictures! Or we didn't choose to buy any of the pictures proffered to us. $30.00 for a single picture or $60 for a disk. Well, there wasn't a single picture of me that didn't show me with a look of abject terror on my face and there were several where all you could see was whitewater and a paddle!
I really did have a great time and I really would like to do it again, but as Bick said, this put a quick stop to any notion we've had of taking a multi-day rafting trip!
A photo - not of us, but representative of the trip.
Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Keep paddling.