06/13/04 - Rafting "Bighorn Sheep Canyon and The
Royal Gorge" on the Arkansas River
Another year and another rafting trip! We choose the Royal Gorge this year
based on the Class III to Class V crazy ole rapids that it promised! Cassel came out for this trip so
it was going to be a drunken weekend of camping and rafting. We found a spot
along Hayden Creek right outside of Cotopaxi and set up shop for two nights.
With four and a half cases of cheap canned beer and enough firewood to make a
redneck happy, we were set. The first night we had to put together the grill
first before being able to cook pork chops and a giant salmon fillet. Cassel
almost fell into the fire after a couple (okay, a few) beers and we danced the
night away to C and C Music Factory, courtesy of Peggy.
On Saturday Peggy and I hiked Mt Princeton while Cassel and Stinger started and
6hr wiffleball tournament. It rained for a few minutes, nothing bad, and we
proceeded to try and finish off the cheap beer along with some Jager and a
bottle of Patrone. The ham and bacon cheese burgers that night were the
highlight of the eating festival! As usual, anything that didn't get used or
eaten...got burned, this included a "fire roasted bag of lettuce" and
my beach chair. Keith and Beth joined us that evening after hiking. After
chowing and partying, Keith soon had his head between his knees preparing for an
aircraft water landing.
Finally Sunday morning came and it was time to go rafting! Cassel felt like
absolute death and made several trips to the woods the night before to empty his
stomach. John and Marci met us at the Arkansas River Tours office and we
went through the waivers, wetsuits, helmets, and safety talks. Finally on the
water we were paddling for about 10 minutes and a D-ring on the raft decides to
eat a giant chunk of Cassel's finger! Blood everywhere and after a quick patch
job we were ready to go again, later to find the hunk of his finger still in the
Keith, Beth, Peggy, Stinger, Cassel, and I were in the same raft and John and Marci in the other with a bearded woman and a few others. The Bighorn Sheep Canyon was 11 miles long and somewhat calm with a few
moments of intense Class III rapids with names like: Prelude, Reefer Madness,
Spikebucket, and Sharks Tooth. This mixed things up nicely and got us ready for the
ass-slamming we would get in the afternoon. So after some lunch at the side of
the river we headed in the 9 miles of the Royal Gorge, things got pretty
exciting right away as we got tossed all over the raft like we were rag dolls!
Peggy was scared to death and Stinger had an ear-to-ear grin on constantly,
Cassel and I were in the front of the raft getting slammed repeatedly in the
face and chest with walls of water. Luckily none of us got the ejection seat out
of the raft through rapids such as: Sledgehammer, Wallslammer, the Narrows,
Boateater, and Sunshine Falls. Sunshine Falls was definitely the coolest, the
guide warned us on the way there just as we watched the raft in front of us
completely disappear! There were a series of three drops that were several feet
each. When you hit them its complete air under the front of the raft till you
slam down back into the water, just as you're trying to get back in your seat
there's another huge drop! Very intense. The top of the Gorge is over 1000'
above the river and you can just barely make out all the tourists on the bridge.
Great scenery and crazy ole intense rapids! Once the trip was over we made our
way back to Cotopaxi to change and hit the road. It was a real sleepy drive back
to Colorado Springs, but why stop there....gotta hit The Loop in Manitou for
06/07/03 - Rafting "The Numbers/Narrow" on the Arkansas River
I've been meaning to go rafting for a few years now, and with the Colorado
rivers flowing at all time highs from all the snow melt, this year would be
ideal. There are several rafting outfitters to choose from so we narrowed them
down based on what we wanted to do. We wanted a full day trip on something hard
yet requiring no previous experience since most of us were rafting-greenhorns.
Based on that, we chose Arkansas Valley Adventures and the Numbers/Narrows
section on a full-day trip, it was FANTASTIC! The rapids were topping out at
Class IV/V and downright intense.
Hendler was in town so we hiked Mt Elbert on Friday to wear off a hangover then
found a great camping spot along 390, near Vicksburg. Peggy and Robyn met us
there that evening and John and Stinger met us at the rafting place just down
the road the following morning. We awoke to freezing temps and snow and were
wondering if we would actually be rafting. An hour later by the time we had our
wetsuits, helmets, and PFD on, the skies were opening up bright and blue! It
worked out real nice cause the boats needed 6 people and a guide and we had 6 in
our group. Our guide was a bit scared when we told him that only 2 of us had
rafted before, but we were equally freaked out when he told us that this was his
first time guiding the Numbers/Narrows!
We were in the raft about 30 seconds before we hit the first set of rapids. It
was AMAZING and we all had monster grins on our faces! It wasn't long before
folks from other rafts were getting ejected and John got bounced out before
too long. I wish I could've captured the look of fear and desperation on his
face before Stinger and Hendler pulled him back in! We were all getting tossed
around like rag dolls and "assumed the cellmate position" several
times. After getting through a few sets of rapids we had it down pretty good and
worked real well with the guides instructions. He played with us some by ramming
us into rocks and making sure we all got soaked even more. At one point we
stopped because one of the other rafts lost some people, moments later a raft
floated by with just 2 people in it. After they got fished out of the river,
apparently a couple of them decided that they had enough rafting for the day and
caught a ride back (not in a raft). Several "Arkansas River Enemas"
later we stopped for a great lunch of chicken fajitas while shivering.
The Narrows sections was a bit easier but had its scary points when the river
would come down to the width of 2 rafts and plenty of monstrous boulders to hit!
It was pretty amazing that we were able to go side to side across the river and
get down the spots we needed to. Seemingly on purpose the guide had us paddle
full speed just to direct us right into a boulder! After the initial blow we
would find ourselves in different spots all over the raft and in each others
laps. The trip was over way too soon for all of us and it would've been great to
shoot the Numbers again that day. Rafting in the spring is now on the yearly
Back at the camp we slugged down beers, wine, tequila and Jager while laughing
about the days events and talking about how awesome it was. After a few rounds
of "Rock Shot Put" the sun was down and the campfire was lit.
Hopefully none of us got a bad case of Monkey Pox from the weekend.....