Monday, July 05, 2010

More Whitewater Rafting Research in the Royal Gorge

On July first, I joined a dozen other intrepid souls--family and friends--for a whitewater rafting trip through the Royal Gorge, carved by the Arkansas River in Colorado. The trip was arranged through Raftmasters in Canon City, Colorado. Our group filled two rafts, guided by Raftmasters owner, Dennis, and one of his guides, Kiel. I was in Kiel's raft, and two questions I always ask river guides are how they got into the guiding business and what they do in the winter. Kiel, like Dennis, was an unhappy engineer with a love of the outdoors who fell in love with guiding after taking Raftmasters's guide training course. In the winter, he is a snowmobile tour guide for Monarch Tours in Monarch, Colorado. Of course, I got some great stories of wipeouts and disastrous groups from him, too, that will be fodder for my RM Outdoor Adventure mysteries starring river ranger Mandy Tanner.

The 12 mile Royal Gorge section from Parkdale to Canon City that we ran consisted of class III and IV rapids with names like Sunshine Falls, Squeeze Box, Sledgehammer, Wallslammer, and Boat Eater. At high water, at least one of these rapids can become a class V, so guides don't take commercial trips down the river when the flow is over 3000 cfs (cubic feet per second). The river was running at around 1500 cfs the day we ran it, a nice medium level. We were all outfitted with helmets and PFDs (personal floatation devices), and most of us opted to wear wetsuits in case we took a swim. Good thing I did, because I got bounced mostly out of the raft once, hanging on by only one foot wedged under a thwart. Our trusty guide, Kiel, was able to haul me back into the boat before I went totally into the river.

The photos below are a combination of ones shot by my husband with his camera in a waterproof box and those by a professional photographer on the bank as we went through one class IV rapid. The first photo shows my family on the left side of the raft, and the second shows me in the back with our guide, Kiel.

The next four photos are shots by the professional photographer of us going through the rapid. My son swears that he's uttering a war cry "whoop" in the second one, not yelling "O- Sh--!" ;-)

The first photo below shows the Royal Gorge bridge above friend Joe, a 6'11" basketball player who along with my son provided the "power strokes" in the front of the raft. The last one shows the other raft holding the rest of our group as we were engaged in a hot and heavy (or cold and wet) splash battle. Good fun all around, and I'd recommend Raftmasters to anyone planning a Royal Gorge or Bighorn Sheep Canyon rafting trip!


Kaye Lynne Booth said...

Great photos, Beth. It looks like you had a great time!

rafting cagayan de oro said...

Very nice. the view from every side is very awesome. though its hot out there but still it looked so great ^_^. keep it up guys. more power.