Rolling on the river
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
I am a transplant. I was not born in Colorado, or even raised here for that matter. That’s not saying I don’t wish I could call myself a native.
It has a certain ring to it.
For all of us who live in Colorado and were not born here, be it transplanted from another state or country, this land is paradise. If I were to make an assimilation, Colorado is much like how I imagine heaven to be. There are flowing rivers that scrawl their way through the canyons. Colorado has forests that go as far as the eye can see.
She has skies the color of bluebird eggs and mountains that majestically watch over funky little ski-and-bike towns like Carbondale and Steamboat. And those are just a couple of examples.
There are so many more to name.
I live in Colorado for several reasons. I love the people and the culture, especially here in the mountains. But the driving force behind my staying here has more to do with the outdoors than anything else. I love being outside. I love the freedom and the openness. This love of the outdoors goes back to my childhood, when I would spend countless hours outside in the woods behind my Indiana home climbing trees and building forts. I also spent a lot of time talking to myself, but in theory I was really having a conversation with Mother Nature.
She gets me.
The younger version of myself was also a Girl Scout. Each summer I couldn’t wait to go to Girl Scout camp so I could hang out outside. I didn’t know it then, but Girl Scouts was my training ground for my eventual comedy pursuits. If wasn’t making up funny skits with my troop, I was standing on a tree stump telling jokes about fellow campers.
I didn’t even need a microphone.
Now that summer is nearly here, I’ll be reserving a lot of my joking-around time to hanging out on the river. Rafting, even above skiing – I know, I hear the gasps – is one of the reasons I never want to leave. I can’t think of anything better than floating on the water, gazing up at the bluebird sky while the canyon walls tower high above me. Throw in some rapids every now and again for the whitewater excitement and I’m a happy little Girl Scout camper.
I’m not high maintenance at all.
I was just telling someone the other day how lucky I was to have instantly been inducted into the rafter culture upon my arrival to Colorado. I was on the river within days of moving here. I had never been whitewater rafting prior to 2002, so I took it all in with wide eyes and a sense of adventure. In any activity – from Zumba to road biking – there’s a culture, and it feels good to be a part of it.
Rafters have their own lingo and even a certain way to dress, not only for safety but to endure the elements. Never underestimate the power of a dry top.
Or a sun hat.
These days, I’m more of a floater than a rapid-hungry adrenaline junkie on the river. I’m not going to be tough about it, there is something about a wave big enough to flip a boat that scares me. A lot. But I am not as familiar with those kind of waves as many of my counterparts. For example, I’ve never been on the Grand Canyon – many a rafter’s dream and reality – but I have been invited.
Obviously not the same.
In my high-water seasons of old, the Shoshone stretch of the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon would have me as scared as my 9-year-old self riding in the front car of Space Mountain with my dad. Shoshone is often like a roller coaster, albeit a wet one.
I always did like the log ride as a kid.
This season, the water in our beloved rivers is running low. Reports are saying the run-off levels have already peaked due to lack of snowpack. A mellow run through Shoshone this weekend proved that. The rapids may not be big, but the floating is ideal. And more time to float means more time to make jokes on the river.
I sure hope Mother Nature has a sense of humor.
– April E. Clark wishes all the river rats out there a safe summer and all the Indianapolis 500 drivers best of luck on Sunday. She can be reached email@example.com.
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