For my first Colorado fourteen-er, I joined a friend in his third attempt at Snowmass, which lived up to its name on July 19th. Two days previous, however a coincidence of faster road-tripping due to glorious 80mph speed limits in Utah on my part and slower arrival of my friend due to the appalling traffic that is I-70 West of Denver landed me with a few unexpected hours unoccupied in Glenwood Springs. I found a parking spot and spent some time Googling what to do in the mountain town. Among various outdoor adventures, river rafting on the Colorado river came up. I decided to take a stroll around downtown and see about river rafting if I came across a company.
Glenwood Springs is a typical Colorado mountain town in that it is full of the super-rich, the adventure near-bums, and a loose collection of tourists, in which I probably fit into the latter two and may secretly wish I could be in the third category. As such, the downtown is full of shops ripe for window-shopping jewelry and other artistry; little, gourmet restaurants; adventure guides ranging from renting you a nearly non-functional bicycle to scoot around town on to asking six months’ rent for the chance to helicopter over and hang-glide from the majestic peaks around you while ice-climbing and tobogganing to a restaurant you never thought could perch on that cliff. This mix of a bit of something for everyone gives the town a rich and relaxed vibe, and you can almost forget the highway tearing through town in the vistas, rustling of aspen leaves, and lap of the river below. The people are friendly and appreciative. The architecture simple, but nice. The parks and bike paths are among the best in the world. The atmosphere bespeaks the relaxation and excitement that people find in adventure towns. Summer is simultaneously hot and chill with the crispness of the mountains and intensity of the sun. The walking is easy one way (riverward) and challenging the other; though, that gives you more time to appreciate the art and shops, and maybe to envy all of the gadgets in the local sports-stores. The mountains and streams are full of the growing greens of summer. I was starting to wonder about which tasty looking food shop or café to ensconce myself in when I came across the rafting company.
It was pretty easy to spot as I was walking up the street watching a truck and boat trailer backing into the lot. Perfect! I can find out about rafting before lunch, I thought. I walked up and was relieved to see there were people waiting for a trip. Maybe I could add on to their trip. This was a fairly big relief after Costa Rica in which there were not enough people the first day I tried to go rafting.
I walked up to the counter and asked, “Hi! I was wondering if I could add onto a trip today.”
The lady at the desk looked at me, then around and said, “Um. There’s a trip leaving right now.” Then, she turned and yelled at a guide to see if it would be ok if I tacked myself on. The guide’s response was that if I were ready about five minutes ago, I could.
I paused and asked if I could have about 15 minutes to go move my car, which was in a two-hour parking spot.
“Not really,” was the response. “We could move it for you.”
“What does it look like?”
“It’s a red pickup truck with bug-lights on the top.”
“Where is it?”
“On eighth and Colorado Ave. No, maybe 9th. Is it on Colorado? I’m not sure. It is next to a church across from a legal office.” I was a little flustered in my mix of excitement and disbelief that I was actually going to do this. “It’s really distinctive because of the lights.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll find it.”
I then proceeded to literally throw my keys, wallet, phone, and any other important information and equipment on my person to the desk lady. I ran my credit card, signed, and to this day, I have no idea how much money it cost me. I vaguely tried to ask how much it was, but at that point, I was much more concerned about finding a life vest. Here is everything important I own. I hope it is here when I get back. I’m going river rafting!
I wandered out in my super-green shorts and found myself on a rafting adventure with six other people who were significantly more prepared than I in their equipment but equally lacking in sunscreen. They loaded us up and drove us upstream to where we could hop onto a few class three rapids. During the course of this drive I was getting the JUDGEMENT from the others since I didn’t even have swimwear, but it eventually worked around to the question, “Have you been rafting before? Where?” Being able to firmly story-top everyone with the Grand Canyon, Costa Rica, and Taiwan, I earned my cred, and the rest of the trip went swimmingly, full of nice people, a few fun rapids, nice floating through a sweet mountain canyon, and even a little, well, swimming.
They did manage to find my car, brought it back to a place where I would not get a ticket. They didn’t even judge me for the disheveled state of a car on day seven of a road trip, nor did they steal my identity. I did get a sunburn.