Friday, July 17, 2009
[W.A.] Do you think it will ever be legal to paddle the Augrabies Gorge? Is there any sort of pressure being put on the park authorities to allow this?
[Celliers] Well, I've paddled it legally a few times. The first time was when I did safety for the Camel Whitewater Challenge in 1999, we ran the section at a few different levels then because we arrived a few days before the river reached the competition water level. I've also run it again in 2001 when we did safety for a movie shoot, this time at a fairly low level. It's quite pushing at any level, really awesome.
Basically, if you can find a good enough reason to paddle the gorge, like doing a movie, it's possible to arrange permission. But if you're talking about legally paddling it any time when you want to, chances are pretty small. It's really a shame, this is a gem of a gorge. There is no sort of pressure being put on the park authorities as far as I know, only requests from a few commercial operators who are keen to take kayakers down the gorge. No luck yet though.
Okay folks, you heard the man. Lets put our thinking caps on. I know! We could make a movie where Kevin Bacon forces us to run the gorge at gunpoint. I'll play Kevin and I need someone to play Meryl. "I am a nice guy. Just a different kind of nice guy."
picture of Fish River
Look Familiar? Its not the Grand Canyon
Fish River Canyon, Namibia
[W.A.] I am intrigued by the Fish river in Namibia (the second largest canyon in the world and a tributary of the Orange). What time of year holds the best chance of running that river?
[Celliers] Only a few guys have ever paddled it. The river only comes up after heavy rain in the catchment area, and as you probably know, the catchment area is pretty much a desert. It will be very difficult to try arrange a paddling trip in the Fish canyon from overseas, unless you have lots of money and can book a ticket the moment the river is up. The rains do come in most years though, but not always at the same time. Bargain on one or two weeks when it will be possible to paddle, any time during our summer.
[W.A.] What other rivers or attractions are worth visiting while in the country?
[Celliers] There are lots of rivers to paddle, but not in the same region as the Northern Cape where the Onseepkans - Pella section is. Most consistent rivers are in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where there are all sorts of rivers to choose from. We've recently started to explore previously unrun rivers in the Transkei region and have done a couple of first descents this year. There are still a few rivers waiting for us, but it's very difficult to arrange transport, so it's not something I would recommend for your group. The Lowveld (in the Mpumalanga province) has some really good rivers of a technical nature, but not as consistent as those in KZN. The area around Cape Town has some world class creeks, but they are also very rain dependent and it's a winter rainfall area. There are plenty of attractions, depending on what you're into. Game lodges, ocean surfing, mountaineering, whatever you can think of. I appreciate the interview and I love Colorado River Rafting with all the variety of rapids and scenery too.
Well that wraps it up. I hope to make it to Africa someday and run some of these rivers. As always you can contact Colorado River Rafting with feedback.
Interview with Celliers Kruger by mania
[W.A.] The Orange seems to be a very long river (2245km). What sections would you recommend if you had two weeks and wanted the best combination of whitewater and scenery?
[Celliers] If you want to do one long trip of two weeks, your best bet will be Onseepkans to Goodhouse. This section goes through the desert, which makes for some awesome scenery. There will be a couple of long flat sections, but there are some very nice rapids (class 3 to 4 mostly) that make it more than worthwhile. The Onseepkans gorge specifically is quite unique. The river splits into two channels a few kilometers downstream of the Onseepkans bridge. The right channel stays fairly flat with one or two nice rapids, while the left channel drop into a gorge with class 4 and 5 rapids. After about two kilometers, just below the biggest rapids of the gorge, the right channel joins the left channel with an unrunnable waterfall. There are still fairly big rapids below the waterfall, really cool.
One thing to keep in mind is that it's always hot here, so it will be difficult to keep food in good shape for two full weeks. An option might be to arrange a re-supply at Pelladrif, roughly halfway.
The Onseepkans gorge has a special place in my heart, my wife and I did our honeymoon on this section. Just the two of us on a two man raft, taking a week to do a trip that normally takes four days. We are actually going back to this area later this month after Christmas to do a trip on the section just above Onseepkans gorge. The river is flatter on this section, but the scenery is still beautiful. We're taking our 15 month baby girl along on our oar raft, so we can't tackle a too difficult section this time.
[W.A.] What time of year would be ideal for optimal flows and temperatures?
[Celliers] The Orange is dam controlled, and all the dams are pretty full at the moment, so a good level can be expected any time of the year if you plan to come in the near future. Temperature wise, autumn and spring will be best. Although I've done an Onseepkans trip in the middle of the winter (July) as well, and it wasn't too cold. The days were actually quite warm, just the nights were a bit chilly.
[W.A.] What kind of experience would you recommend for someone attempting these sections?
[Celliers] If you want to run Onseepkans gorge and don't plan to run the main gorge (most people don't) you will run everything with class 3-4 skills. The river is completely of a pool drop nature with long flat sections, so less experienced paddlers can easily portage the bigger rapids. There are some interesting rapids in the Pella section as well, but nothing more difficult than you'll find below Onseepkans. Remember that this section is not just an adrenaline rush, it's a whole experience.
[W.A.] Tell us a little about the camping, wildlife and side hikes? Any hazards to look out for?
[Celliers] The river runs through a desert so there are not too many big animals. But there are many small animals and lots of different bird species. The fish eagles especially are quite a treat to see and hear. There are many side hikes you can do to explore the side ravines, and you have to climb at least one of the small mountains alongside the river to get a bird's eye view of the area. Apart from the main Onseepkans gorge, which you'll miss completely if you stick to the right channels, there are no serious hazards to look out for. There are also very few people in this area, chances are good that you won't see anybody else during the trip. The people that you do find in this area are always friendly in any case.
[W.A.] Where is the closest international airport? Is it possible to rent equipment and transportation?
[Celliers] You'll fly to either Johannesburg or Cape Town, and then catch a flight to Upington. From there you'll have to arrange shuttles. Remember that public transport is really bad in our country unfortunately, so you'll either have to rent vehicles or arrange your transport beforehand with somebody you know or with commercial operators. It won't be too difficult to get transport arranged though, I'll put you in contact with guys who can do that for you. As for equipment, it is possible to rent, but if it's a big group you might find it difficult to rent everything you need. I would recommend you bring at least all your gear and just rent kayaks here. It will most probably be Fluid kayaks, of course.
Look for part two of this interview soon: Colorado River Rafting Blog
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Colorado River Rafting & India's river rafting
The 7 days river journey on the Zanskar takes you through the Zanskar gorge referred to as the "Grand Canyon" of Asia, through Grade III and Grade IV rapids, much like Colorado River Rafting grade III and IV, which add a dimension of excitement and adventure. A fresh water spring that can be mistaken for a water fall is the lunch point on one of the days. Hikes to monasteries and villages which are otherwise inaccessible all add to the charm of this trip.
The only other way to cross the Zanskar river is in winter when it is frozen and the locals trek across it to cut down their travel time to Leh.
There is always a good chance to spot wild life as we travel along since the area is home to the ibex, mountain goat and snow leopard. The trip ends at Alchi, 60 km, downstream of Leh where our jeeps come to collect us and take us to the comfortable Lha Rimo Hotel in Leh. Two nights in Leh at the end of the trip give you time for last minute shopping in the bazaar and savour a few extra moments in this magical place.
* Day 01 : Fly Delhi / Leh (11,000 ft). Check in at a comfortable hotel in Leh. Relax, don’t exert yourself, your body needs to acclimatise to the altitude.
* Day 02 : Light activity and short walks around Leh. The quaint Leh market is a great place to start exploring as are the numerous bakeries selling mouth - watering gourmet delights. For the more energetic a visit to a few monasteries such as Spituk, Thikse and Hemis will be arranged. Overnight at the hotel.
* Day 03 : We drive 180 km from Leh to Mulbek/Kargil, through a spectacular 'lunar' landscape. Crossing the high mountain pass, Fotu La (14,000 ft), from the Indus valley into the Suru Valley. We visit the Lamayuru monastery en route, known to be one of the oldest monasteries amongst the 'Red Hat' sect. Overnight hotel / PWD Rest House.
* Day 04 : The most spectacular drive filled with natural wonders. We drive to Ringdum Gompa (12,000 ft). Few mountain drives get you this close to the Great Himalaya. The awesome mass of the Nun Kun massif over 7000m high with its hanging glacier across the road from us, dominating today's journey. Overnight in the PWD rest house at Ringdum.
* Day 05 : We drive for approx. 06 hrs to Remala which is the put-in point for the rafting trip. The drive is across the Pensi La at 14,500 ft, at the top of which we stop for lunch surrounded by an awe inspiring arena of the Zanskar peaks at the bottom of which is the Drung Durung glacier that feeds the Zanskar river, 40 km below, on which we begin our rafting trip tomorrow. Overnight tented camp.
* Day 06 : Rafting expedition commences from Remala to Karsha Gompa, near Padum. We cover approx 30 km in 5 hours, which includes a break for lunch and hot beverages. We are surrounded by 6000 m Himalayan and Zanskar peaks. Rapids encountered today are all Class II, a good introduction for first time rafters as well as to the river in general. After settling into camp by 3 PM, take a short walk to Kharsha Gompa for the evening incantations by the monks.
* Day 07 : After breakfast trip starts in the late morning from Kharsha up til Pidmu. This stretch is approximately 30 km with Class II & III rapids. After settling into the camp by mid afternoon, we visit the nearby villages of Pidmu and Hanomil.
* Day 08 : Today we raft approx. 20 km to Nyerak, through Class III rapids and the canyon closes in on us through this gorge section and the views are akin to the Grand Canyon. We make a camp in a steep gorge below Nyerak village.
* Day 09 : Today's rafting stretch is approx. 35 km from Nyerak to Lamaguru. This is the heart of Zanskar. Awe inspiring rock formations with indescribable colours. A good white water day with continuous Class III rapids, with a few Class IV's where the river narrows down to 15 ft in width. We stop for lunch at a huge waterfall at the confluence of Markha river with Zanskar.
* Day 10 : Hiking day today. We hike up the Markha valley to Skiu village to partake of the local culture and colour. Picnic lunch en route. Overnight in Lamaguru camp.
* Day 11 : Rafting from Lamaguru to Nimu today. 40 km on the water through class III / IV white water. The Zanskar joins the Indus river near Nimu. We camp short of the confluence of the two rivers. Overnight.
* Day 12 : Raft approx. 25 km from Nimu to finish the trip at Alchi through class III / IV rapids. After taking out at Alchi, we walk up to the centuries old monastery to view the beautiful frescos and wood carvings. Drive back 60 km to Leh and check in to hotel in Leh.
* Day 13 : In Leh - Rest and relaxation (and those much needed baths !) and time to catch up with any last minute shopping.
* Day 14 : Fly Leh / Delhi.
Go on a Colorado River Rafting expedition or travel to an exotic place to have a new experience if you have the time and funds.
Monday, July 13, 2009
part II of III
Anupam Chandola (Arnie) is a native of India and has guided around the world including the Zanskar
About the History and landscape you would receive on this whitewater expedition in India where Ladakh is in the North.
Located in Northern India, Ladakh is a high altitude desert land abounding in awesome physical features, set in an enormous and spectacular environment comparable to Colorado River Rafting. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Karakoram in the north and the Great Himalaya in the south, it is traversed by two other parallel chains, the Ladakh Range and the Zanskar Range.
For nearly 900 years, from the middle of the 10th century, Ladakh was an independent kingdom, its ruling dynasties descending from the kings of old Tibet. The kingdom attained its greatest geographical extent and glory in the early 17th century under the famous king Singge Namgyal, whose domain extended across Spiti and western Tibet right up to the Mayum-la, beyond the sacred sites of Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar.
During the British rule in India, Ladakh, together with the neighboring province of Baltistan, was incorporated into the newly created state of Jammu & Kashmir. Just over a century later, this union was disturbed by the partition of India, as a result of which Baltistan became part of Pakistan, while Ladakh remained in India as part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Geographically, Culturally and Politically, Ladakh is completely different from Kashmir. The mighty Zanskar Range forms a natural barrier between the regions of Kashmir and Ladakh.
Today, with political stability, Ladakh is thriving as a Mecca for adventure travelers. Only recently opened by the Indian government to tourism, Ladakh is still relatively untouched by the excesses found in most developing countries.
In the ancient Kingdom of Ladakh the majestic Himalayan ranges, drawing adventure seeking travelers, shape an incredible variety of whitewater challenges for paddlers. A series of worlds most outstanding rivers journeys are found in the Himalayas and Ladakh is no exception. An uncanny blend of natural splendor, exotic cultures, warm weather and exciting whitewater makes river travel in Ladakh especially unique. Adventures in Ladakh are not limited to whitewater excitement. In this fairy tale land of temples, monasteries and medieval villages, a varied and complex culture has evolved rich with distinctive art forms, joyful ceremonies, and deep religious traditions of the ethnic groups that populate the land. Linked by a rich heritage, the people of the Ladakh have created a kaleidoscope of exotic customs and beliefs.
The history and culture of Ladakh only helps deepen the understanding of the land we river raft by, realizing we are just very lucky to a be in very special and ancient place. Colorado River Rafting has the scenery too, but not the heritage and new culture experience and American would be interested in seeing.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Colorado River Rafing featuring rafting in India
by Anupam Chandola
part I of III
Anupam Chandola (Arnie) is a native of India and has guided around the world including the Zanskar. Arnie really wants to go again so he wrote this up to entice you to join us in the summer for "a true journey of exploration and discovery". He can setup fully guided or semi-private trips where you kayak or row your own raft as I know that would appeal to many of our readers. Just contact us with questions.
Rafting in the Indian Himalayas
River running is virtually as old as civilization itself, but rafting and kayaking as recreational activities are relatively new, especially in the Indian Himalayas. A river journey in an exotic foreign country is one of the most enjoyable and effective ways to experience the rural areas, observing different ways of live, cultures and natural environments, and coming into contact with village people the conventional traveler rarely gets to meet. These pleasures are complimented by an even greater thrill: rafting through powerful, fast flowing rapids. The skills of our professional guides and the stability, sturdiness and buoyancy of modern self bailing rafts, enable us to safely challenge these exciting rivers. Nowhere are these voyages of exploration and adventure better experienced than in the Himalayas, where some of the finest white-water rivers in the world surge through spectacular land of dramatic contrast supporting an amazing variety of flora and fauna, interlaced with a myriad of centuries-old culture. History you will find with India River Rafting in the Himalayas. Colorado River Rafting has more rapids...
Friday, July 3, 2009
Colorado River Rafting and what to wear...
You will be the most comfortable in things that dry quickly. If the weather is warm, and that is most typical, dress to get wet. Swimsuits, shorts and T-shirts are fine. Appropriate footwear is a must. Old pair of tennis shoes or the Teva-type sport sandals (the guides choice of footwear) is best. Wool socks or no socks. If it is expected to be a cool day, rule number one is COTTON IS WRONG! A wool sweater or fleece jacket is good to have along on any raft trip. There are brands of wetsuits and one of the best for coldwater 45 degrees is this wetsuit approved by scuba pros and this wetsuit for waters ranging 60 to 75 degrees, spray jackets, and river boots preferred by Colorado River Rafting professionals. Again, expect to get wet!
If you wear glasses or plan to wear sunglasses, a retaining strap such as a chums or croakies is the key to still owning your glasses at the end of the day. Only waterproof cameras are recommended. A water bottle is nice to have along. Most outfitters rent the river wear and some provide certain things for free like raftmasters.com on your Colorado Whitewater Rafting trip. Sunscreen and/or a hat are also good to have. Don't forget your spirit of adventure.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Colorado Whitewater Rafting Terminology for beginners
Paddle: A paddle held in the hands, not attached to the boat, used to paddle. Can be single-bladed (for rafting and canoeing) or double-bladed (for kayaking, solo cats, inflatable kayaks)
Paddle Boat: A raft with a crew of paddlers and a guide.
Oar: A long blade, attached to the boat by an oarlock on thole pin, and used to row.
Oar Rig: A boat rigged with oars, so one person sitting in the center of the boat can row.
Stern Rig, Paddle Assist: An oar/paddle boat, in which the guide has oars and frame in the stern, and thecrew, sitting forward, has paddles. Ofen used on high water.
Bow: The front of the boat.
Stern: The rear of the boat.
Duckie, Inflatable Kayak, Funyak, Splashyak: A one or two person inflatable boat, usually paddled with double bladed paddles.
Cataraft: An inflatable boat with two pontoons.
Solo Cat: A one-person cataraft paddled with a double-bladed paddle.
Hoopi: Tubular webbing used for multiple purposes in rigging and preparing boats. Some into Colorado Whitewater Rafting do not know this term.
Carabiner: A clip, used to secure items into the boat, and to construct safety and rescue systems.
Wet Suit: A neoprene rubber suit which allows a small amount of water in, to help retain body heat.
Dry Suit: A suit designed to keep all water out, under which any amount of layered clothing can be worn.
Day Bag: A bag for keeping gear in on the river, to help keep things dry (but probably not 100%)
Life Jacket: A personal floatation device, coast guard approved, and worn like a vest.
Monday, June 29, 2009
BRECKENRIDGE RAFTING and what rafts utilized by outfitters
RAFT:Puma Length:11'6" Width:66" Diameter:18" WEIGHT:88 lbs MATERIAL:PVC/U CAPACITY:950 lbs PRICE:$2500
AIRE makes the Puma, a longtime favorite for raft creeking. Lately they have been making bigger versions of the Puma called the Super Puma and the Super Duper Puma but I feel like they should make a smaller version and call it the Baby Puma or something. Recently I portaged a Puma for three miles and that wasn't too fun. If you are listening AIRE please build me a Baby Puma, 9 feet long and weighing less than 40 lbs.
Mini-Me 9' 62" 18" 45 lbs Hyp 4 $1764
140SBU 11'8" 70" 18" 87 lbs Hyp 6 $2779
109RBS 9' 62" 18" 71 lbs Hyp 4 $1420
139RBS 11'6" 66" 18" 84 lbs Hyp 6 $1975
Hyside is the proud maker of the Mini Me 9 foot raft. What fun! These things are popular R2 boats and make it possible to do some serious raft creeking. Made of Hypalon.
G25S 8'5" 53" 15" 55 lbs Poly/U 2 $NA
G29S 9'6" 57" 15.75" 66 lbs Poly/U 3 $NA
W33S 10'10" 63" 15.75" 78 lbs Poly/U 4 $2190
These New Zealand boats are imported directly to Idaho through a giant whirlpool from the Buller River straight to the Payette. They offer not one but three small rafts in delightfully light weights for those days where half your time is spent walking.
Seal 11'6" 72" 17" 77 lbs Poly/U 4 $2201
Elan 12' 69" 18" 95 lbs Poly/U 6 $3998
Maravia makes two small rafts but don't try to find them on the Maravia website - better off visiting the River Connection instead. I was part of a two man crew that paddled a little Maravia down the Green Truss section of the White Salmon and the boat held up very well.
E-120 12' 66" 17" 108lbs Hyp NA $3400
Otter120 12' 66" 17" 88 lbs Hyp NA $2475
NRS has two 12 foot self-bailing models both made of hypalon. The E series is made for commercial abuse but is pretty heavy. The Otter is a good value and should be a great boat for the private boater.
SP10E (Tan) 10' 18" ? lbs Poly/U ? $2400
SP12E 12' ? 18" ? lbs Poly/U ? $2779
ST11E 11' 62" 19" 78 lbs Poly/U ? $3381
ST12E 12' 70" 19" 85 lbs Poly/U ? $3381
SL11E 11' 64" 20" 75 lbs Poly/U ? $3740
ST12E 12' 68" 20" 82 lbs Poly/U ? $3974
Sotar has three basic raft models. The ST is their standard design, the SP is the standard design but in Tan color only and the ST has a diminishing tube design. The prices are pretty high for boats this small, save perhaps the SP model. Sotars have been used on some pretty balsy stuff including the first raft descent of the Green River Narrows.
LX12-SB THUNDER 12' 72" 18" 116 lbs PVC 3-6 $2449
VX12-SB 12' 72" 18" 90 lbs PVC 6 $1485
B12-SB LIGHTNING BUG 12' 57" 24" 103 lbs PVC 3-5 $1919
U9-SB ULTRA LITE 9' 50" 18" 75 lbs PVC 4 $1675
Star is the maker of the Bug and Ultra Bug as well as standard rafts. The bugs are supposed to behave more like catarafts since they have a lot of clearance. Check it out to see what I mean.
PSB-1104 11'4" 66" 16" 101 lbs PVC 4 $2395
PSB-1200 12' 73" 18" 114 lbs PVC 6 $2595
Vanguard makes two small rafts with a nice price. Unfortunately they are very heavy and would be difficult to carry for just two people.
This information is cited from www.whitewateraddiction.com and many or all Breckenridge Rafting outfitters use these manufacturers.
You may come across two other types of rafts during a Colorado Whitewater Rafting expedition that are not used often called J-Rigs, Sweep boats, and Dories. 'J-rigs' are giant rafts that are very specialized passenger and gear haulers. J-rigs are constructed of huge pontoons and are often motorized. They're used by many of the commercial rafting companies in the Grand Canyon. Sweep boats are named for the two huge oars used to steer them. They're basically very large self bailers, but the oars extend out both ends of the craft, and steer the boat like rudders rather than extending out the sides to row as a normal self bailer does.
Sweep boats (or "sweeps") are commonly used by commercial outfitters on the Middle Fork of the Salmon (you'll rarely see them on other rivers). Their advantage is that they carry huge loads of camping gear and food for Colorado Whitewater Rafting expeditions that last longer than a few days.
Due to the huge displacement and surface area exposed to the current, they are the fastest non-motorized craft on the river. Their disadvantage is that they have no brakes! Trust that if you see one, the guide holding those big oars is both very courageous and very skilled!
While certainly not a raft, you may encounter wooden or fiberglass boats called Dories on the river. These craft seem to be more popular on certain rivers. While they may be more fragile, they are certainly maneuverable.
They seemingly can stop on a dime in significant current, giving their ‘driver’ time to adjust course, mid-rapid. And they are a pretty sporty ride! But on rocky rivers or later in the season at lower water levels a Dorie can be a liability.
Breckenridge Rafting Kayaks
Other forms of Breckenridge Rafting craft are worth mentioning. The obvious one is kayaks. These also come in two flavors; hard shelled kayaks made of various rigid plastics, and 'inflatable' kayaks, also known as "IK's" that are made of the same materials as rafts. Both types of kayaks are a lot of fun and have their vocal advocates. I'll just point out a little bit of trivia.
That is, while both groups share the river, hard shelled kayakers and rafters generally don't intermingle much. They are two different sports that share the same playing field. But some hard shell kayakers shun their inflatable brethren in IKs. So, ironically, inflatable kayakers tend to hang out with the rafters. I guess it's the materials that are alike that bring a kayaker and rafters together in some cases.
Colorado Whitewater Rafting and what is an R2?
What's an ‘R2’?
You might hear the term "R2" mentioned in the context of Colorado whitewater rafting. This refers to a paddle raft being paddled by just two people. They usually sit shoulder to shoulder in the middle of the raft, each paddling a side. Of course, they can sit anywhere they want. The term R2 implies a sportier version of paddle rafting since it is more challenging to maneuver the boat when there are just two people aboard.
R2's came from the idea of kayaks and canoes for the simple reason of wanting something new and ingenuity on the rivers. Of course the R2's come after the larger rafts design for those people who take Colorado Whitewater Rafting to higher levels and extremes compared to a large group on a self bailer for a trip.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Most of the paddle strokes that a paddle raft crew takes to steer the raft propel the raft forward. Therefore paddle rafts move down the river faster than other rafts. Self bailers are next fastest. Fully loaded self bailers carry a lot of momentum and offer a lot of surface area to the river. So friction with the water causes them to be dragged along easily by the current. Since it's a lot more work to fight against these factors, the steering strokes that the person at oars takes are usually forward strokes.
The raftman just tries to adjust the direction or vector of the rafts natural movement down the river during Colorado River Rafting. It may be surprising to know that catarafts are usually the slowest at traveling down the river as they offer less surface area for friction and are so light that it is easy for the oarsman to pull back, arresting the momentum. For these reasons, rookie oarsmen in catarafts are usually at the back of any group of rafts.
Self bailers can be set up with a rigid metal (or on rare occasions, wood) frame that rests across the top of the raft, to which oar locks are mounted and oars attached. The other configuration is to leave the frame and oars at home and just use paddles. So the term 'paddle raft' refers to this other set up. It's just a term for a self bailer that is set up with inflated seats known as 'thwarts' for passengers to sit on. This image shows set up for both with mounted oars in the back, and in the front people using paddles.
Passengers are obligated to row, or more accurately, paddle the boat down the river. While this means work for the passengers, it makes for a very entertaining, social (and usually wet) ride! Most commercial river guides services for Colorado Whitewater Rafting run paddle boats to give the paying clients the full immersion experience.
The normal configuration for a paddle boat is to have a 'captain' sitting at the rear of the boat shouting orders to the crew and using her paddle to steer or make fine adjustments to speed and direction. The 'crew' is the rest of the passengers, with half of them paddling on one side and the other half paddling on the other making a Colorado Whitewater Rafting experience memorable.
Breckenridge Rafting and using a Cataraft
Cats are far more maneuverable than self bailers but carry less weight. They're the sports cars of a Breckenridge Rafting trip. And like sports cars, they carry fewer passengers, but provide a lot of fun for the driver. If you're new to rafting, you would be well advised to consider buying a cataraft as your first raft. Their maneuverability will help you recover when you misjudge a rapid, and of course they are just plain fun.
When you plan a Breckenridge Rafting trip, a cataraft is the ideal raft for a day trip. And cats are also ideal for high water or extreme multi-day trips when each participant will row their own raft.
There is a unique description to know when sizes of cats are discussed. Sizes of catarafts are described as pairs of dimensions separated by "X", like "12X20", "16X24". The first number is the length in feet, and the second number is the diameter of the pontoons in inches. So a cat that is 12X20 is 12 feet long with pontoons or "tubes" as they are referred to that are 20 inches in diameter.
Colorado River Rafting on a Self Bailer Raft
Types of rafts are:
* Self Bailers
* Paddle Rafts
* Differences in Boat Speed
* What's an ‘R2’?
* J-Rigs and Sweep Boats
Let's start with the Self Bailer and we will explain the rest in other articles. So how can a whitewater raft bail water out of itself? Well, an ingeniously simple design makes it happen. You see, the floor of a self bailing raft is a wide flat inflated chamber, sort of like a big air-mattress. The edges of the floor are stitched or laced to the rest of the raft.
When inflated, the floor is about 4 or 5 inches thick, so the top surface of the floor floats above the surface of the water. When water splashes into the boat, it flows across the floor, down over the edge, and out through the lacing. This design works amazingly well. A self bailer filled to the brim with water will proceed to empty itself in just a few seconds on a Colorado River Rafting trip.
If you've ever bailed water out of a raft, you know how sweet it is to have a self bailer. In fact, if you float with someone who has an older non-self-bailing raft (known as a 'bucket boat' for the obvious trait - it retains water), you get to stop and wait for them to bail at the bottom of each major rapid. So, nowadays, when someone says 'raft', they are usually talking about a self bailer. If they say they've got a 'bucket boat', well, too bad for them.
Self bailers are the work horses on a raft trip in Colorado River Rafting because they can carry a lot of gear and passengers. Popular sizes are from 13 - 18 feet long, with 14 feet probably a minimum for carrying the gear and two adults on a multi-day raft trip. 15-16 feet is ideal, and 18 footers are nice to have on larger rivers. From a performance standpoint, rowing a self bailer is more like driving a bus. So the longer the raft, the slower it is to maneuver. And the performance of any raft is diminished if it's overloaded, pressing it deeper into the water.
Friday, June 26, 2009
The most dedicated, most skilled, and most enthusiastic outdoor professionals anywhere eagerly await your arrival so that we may escort you on the outdoor adventure of a lifetime. Let our Colorado whitewater rafting guides show you an unforgettable adventure.
Breckenridge Rafting by Raftmasters offers trips on 5 rivers in central Colorado. We offer Colorado whitewater rafting trips ranging from mild, scenic floats to fun, family-style whitewater to some of the most advanced Class IV & V rafting challenges in the U.S.
Colorado River Rafting and a comparison between Natural Flow Rivers and Dam controlled rivers
Edited by Whitewater Times
Good snow pack from this winter does not mean good river levels for Colorado River Rafting. Let me explain. We basically have two types of river-dependent factors to consider in the situation. Dam controlled rivers and natural flow rivers.
Earlier posts have talked about rivers across the nation changing over to dam controlled levels, in which certain river flows are guaranteed throughout the summer months. In general, good snow-pack and snow run-off are a good thing for dam controlled rivers. It means more water in the reservoir, and will continue to leave plenty of water flow throughout the coming years.
Natural flow rivers are a different story for Colorado River Rafting and other things we do on our rivers. Lets take a look at the Western U.S. as an example. The image here shows the current snow-pack levels across the various regions in the West. These numbers are a "percentage of normal", meaning that anything close to 100 is a very good thing, and anythin over 100 means higher-than-normal levels. Many locations that feed large rivers have over 100% snowpack for the season (still). But the weather still plays an important factor as to whether the snow will produce high, constant water levels or not.
Even with a good winter, if the weather heats up too fast, you run into flooding and fast run-off. So essentially, you would have a nice spring rafting season, followed by normal (or even below normal) water levels for the rest of the season. So it really still depends on mother nature and the transitional temperature from winter to spring to summer. Also, during the transition from spring to summer and during summer the decisions made to release water from reservoir reserves made from snow pack compared to how much rain we receive during the summer effecting the natural flow rivers.
Real-time data typically are recorded at 15-60 minute intervals, stored onsite, and then transmitted to USGS offices every 1 to 4 hours, depending on the data relay technique used. Recording and transmission times may be more frequent during critical events. Data from real-time sites are relayed to USGS offices via satellite, telephone, and/or radio and are available for viewing within minutes of arrival.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Colorado River Rafting and terms for Whitewater Rafting TO KNOW....
Atomic Launch - launching from a ledge above a river by sliding down the bank and droping into the water.
Boat-Eater - A "monster hole" in a rapid, big enough to swallow a boat. Also known as a bus-stopper.
Boil - swirly or unpredictable currents pushing (boiling) to the surface. Usually caused by rocks pushing the water to the surface.
Bony - run or rapid requiring lots of maneuvering because of the abundance of obstacles, mostly rocks.
Boof - driving your boat for a mini-launch over a shallow ledge or rock.
Brace - paddling technique using downward and sweeping strokes to stabilize a tipping canoe or kayak.
Broach - occurs when a canoe or kayak becomes caught in the current against an obstruction and turned sideways. Can result in severe damage as the current's force warps the boat around the obstruction.
C.F.S. - Cubic Feet per Second. Measurement of velocity of water flow at a given point in a Colorado river. Will vary according to water level and gradient of riverbed.
Carnage - general term for a mishap, as in a boat flipping or someone falling out.
Chicken Line - Straps on the sides of a raft for clients to hold on to if they get scared. Use caution as it can entrap arms and legs in a flip.
Class I-VI - international scale of river difficulty classification system for negotiating the difficulty of fast-moving water. Class I is the easiest and Class VI the most difficult.Confluence- the junction of two rivers or forks of a river.
Control Hand- "fixed" hand, left or right, depending on the offset of the blades on a kayak paddle. Left hand paddles are more difficult to obtain.
Curler - a large wave, usually at the bottom of a drop, with a crest that spills upon its upstream slope. May be a surfing wave.
Drop - a short, well-defined rapid or section of a rapid. Named for the abrupt drop in elevation between the top and bottom of the rapid.
Eddy - area of usually calm water behind or downstream of an obstruction in the main current, where water flows counter to that of the main current.
Eddy Out - term used to describe leaving the main current and entering an eddy.
Eddy Line - a current differential between the upstream current of the eddy and the downstream current of the main flow of the river.
Ender - a play maneuver enacted by nosing the boat's bow down and deep and the stern up, which results in the boat popping vertically upward. Good fun!!
Ferry - a maneuver used to cross a current with little or no down stream travel. Utilizes the current's force to move the boat sideways.
Float Bag - the most common form of floatation in canoes and kayaks.
Gauge Height - for measuring water levels at one or more locations. Reference point used with CFS (or in lieu of).Grab Loop - grab-handle threaded through bow/stern stems of a kayak or canoe. Useful as carry-handles and for catching swimmers.
Gradient - refers to the steepness of a riverbed over a specified distance, usually per mile. Along with CFS and water level information, this helps paddlers draw a conclusion of a river's difficulty. See CFS and Class I-VI.
Hair - dangerous and difficult water.Hair boating - paddling in dangerous and difficult whitewater.
Haystacks - big standing waves in a wave "train" following a drop.
Headwall - steep cliff where the main channel of the river drives against it at a 90-degree angle.
Highside - when you broach on a rock with a raft everyone moves to the highside to push it back down so it won't wrap around the rock.
Hole - a hole is created when the river current drops over a rock or ledge and circulates instead of continues its downstream flow. A significant feature because it either offers play opportunities or danger of trapping, depending on the power of the hole.
Horizon line - usually indicative of a falls or steep drop. There is a line, but the route, if there is one, is not apparent. Time to exit and scout.
Hydraulic - water formation following a sudden drop in the riverbed or drop over an obstruction that creates a powerful circulating force at the base of a drop. The circulating pressure of a powerful hydraulic can hold boats and paddlers for indeterminate lengths of time.
Hypothermia - the cold water hazard for paddlers. Prolonged exposure can lead to incapacitation and eventually death as body core temperature drops below 80 degrees.
Lilly-dipper - a weak paddler.
Maytag - stuck in a hole and thrashed about as if in a washing machine. Usually not fun!
Mystery move - usually a squirt boat move that is a lengthy disappearance under water then reappearance to the surface downstream in an entirely different location. Fun, especially when intentional!
New Yorker - a client who whines and complains.Peel out - term used to describe leaving an eddy and entering the main current; bow catches the main current and quickly swings the boat downstream. A downstream lean is needed to counter act the current.
PFD - Personal Floating Device. The proper name for a Life Jacket per Coast Guard definition. It is required by law for every passenger of all water craft and your most important life-saving tool.
Pillow - water that builds up around a rock in the main current. Pillows are stuffed with rock.Pin - being stuck between the current and the river bed or an obstruction such as a rock or log and unable to dislodge. Not fun; possibly deadly!
Pirouette - while popping vertical in a kayak during an "ender", the paddler reaches a paddle blade to the water then effects a vertical boat-and-paddler spin with it.
Portage - term for carrying boats and gear around a difficult rapid or from lake to lake.Put-in - starting place of a river trip; where you put your boat on the river to begin a run or trip.Ramp - point in a rapid where water constricts/pools before dropping downstream through a channel.
River left - the left-hand side of the river when looking downstream. When downstream looking upstream it is on your right.
River right - the right-hand side of the river when looking downstream. When downstream looking upstream it is on your left.Roll - a move requiring a paddle stroke and body snap to right oneself from a tip over while staying in the boat. Common techniques are the Sweep and the Eskimo rolls.
Roostertail - spray of water that explodes off a submerged rock or obstacle.
Shuttle - the most dangerous part of the trip. Driving between the put-in and take-out. One-vehicle shuttles require logistical foresight using options such as biking, walking, hitchhiking, etc., to return to the put-in.
Side surf - a play move in a hole in which a paddler uses counter balancing forces of downstream current and upstream hydraulic.
Spray skirt - or spray deck. A neoprene or nylon accessory that fits around the waist of the paddler and the cockpit lip of a canoe or kayak for a watertight closure.
Squirt boat - extremely low-volume (small, flat) kayak that uses the underwater river currents for playing.
Standing waves - big waves that often indicate the main channel.
Strainer - current clogged with tree branches or debris that allows the water to flow through but could pin you or your boat. Very Dangerous!
Take-out - ending point of a paddling trip; where the boats are finally taken from the water.
Technical - describes the character of a rapid that requires skillful maneuvering because of frequent obstructions. Also describes specific, difficult-to-master paddling techniques.
Throw bag - rescue device incorporating a 60 ft. floating rope coiled inside a nylon bag, to be thrown while holding one rope end.
Tongue - a smooth downstream V indicating the route through a rapid.
Undercut - an overhanging rock or ledge with water flowing underneath it. A serious hazard!
Waterfall - major drop in a riverbed, usually over six feet in height.
Wave train - A series of standing waves or runout of a rapid. Also called "haystacks".
Wrap - to wrap your boat around a rock or obstacle. Countered by leaning into the rock or highsiding a raft.
More Whitewater rafting Termonology River Rafting Terms Home
Featured article from Blog: http://www.myrafting.com/blog/about-rafting/365/the-three-best-breckenridge-whitewater-rafting-runs/
Edited by Whitewater Times
Rivers thumps lifeblood in the western United States as in spring the water flows down the snow capped peaks of the Colorado Rocky Mountain high country. The rivers get swollen and are filled with fresh life. This yearly phenomenon is valued by the people and you’ll find at least one tour, in every town and hamlet along the river.
Breckenridge is one of the earliest and biggest communities in Summit County. There is an assortment of amazing activities all through the year but the most exciting is the Breckenridge Rafting in the summer months. It is nestled in the Blue River Valley sandwiched between the serrated peaks of the Ten and the Baldy Mountains.
You will be able to hire the most committed as well as skilled and enthusiastic outdoor professionals who will guide you through the thrilling Breckenridge Whitewater Rafting tours which awaits you. This is one adventure which you will take a long time to forget.
The tours conductors offer you top quality outdoor adventure packages in the Rocky Mountain expanse with the best service as well as the best available gear. You can have a relaxed as well as a thrilling adventure Breckenridge Whitewater Rafting vacation in the guidance of unmatched experts on white water rafting.
You may wonder if Breckenridge rafting is dangerous. Even though no two tours down the river are similar, you can find well qualified guides who will help you navigating the turbulent rapids safely. You won’t to worry about your safety. In fact Breckenridge Whitewater Rafting is not only exciting but can even be educational especially for children are they learn about the flora and fauna of Colorado.
You have several options when you plan a Breckenridge rafting adventure. Skill levels, style, topography as well as the strength of rapids must be taken into account when you go for Breckenridge white water rafting.
There are some trip advisories on this Forum of Breckenridge Rafting.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
A Rogue Annual Meeting: Whitewater Rafting Outfitters
Edited by Whitewater Times
It’s 7am and I’m already sitting in a meeting talking about my Mother, as in Mother Nature with top outfitters from all over the U.S.
I thought I was just going to enjoy a four-day paddle on Oregon’s Rogue River and chat with some rogue paddling company owners about their various Whitewater Rafting and offerings.
We weren’t supposed to meet until nine, but we’d gotten a bit behind on the agenda the night before and they didn‘t want to miss a mid-morning put-in on the Rogue. I’m attending this annual meeting as an “embedded reporter” to learn more about Adventure Gateway, a consortium of high-quality paddling companies. They get together once a year to paddle some of America’s top rivers and to discuss business practices--both good and bad. They’ve promised me full access to them during their formal (and many informal) meetings--including much discussion about the environment and eco-tourism.
Before I’m finished my first cup of coffee, they‘re covering serious ground about the environment--including river lunches for dozens of rafters that leave no trace, attaining “Wild & Scenic“ river status (the Rogue has it), and building environmentally sensitive lodging options on budget. These men and women take river running and the health of their rivers (and businesses) very seriously.
Several Adventure Gateway companies have developed ecologically sensitive lodging options (Class VI River Runners in West Virginia is the most recent), while others have worked for years to keep rivers clean and free from excessive development. For instance, Echo River Trips owners Dick Lindford and Joe Daly were heavily involved (as was paddler- and river-focused Patagonia) in achieving Wild & Scenic status for the Tuolumne (Joe served as president of the Tuolumne River Preservation Trust for 11 years), while Wildwater founder Jim Greiner successfully pursued similar status for the Chattooga (he started his company the same year the feature film, Deliverance, was released).
I’m fascinated about their open nature in discussions of specific financial matters and ideas (both dollars and sense)--all in the hope of finding “nuggets” they can use in their own companies and rivers. For instance, before we break to hit the Rogue, Dee Holladay, founder of Holiday Expeditions, provides an overview of their “Journey with Our River Sage” program. For this popular offering, lucky paddlers get to spend quality time on a river with Dee, a 45-year whitewater veteran. With hundreds of years of whitewater experience in the room, this is a nugget several other company owners (and river sages) will be copying.
Some of these long-time owners obviously hoped to find a nugget or three from Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard, in that several coincidentally brought along Let My People Go Surfing for some late-night homework by lantern light.
Many outfitters will be following this group of idea makers for the future planning and trip offerings for environmental considerations within their business plan in river rafting expeditions.
Monday, June 8, 2009
While they had all the best intentions of bettering their sixth-place showing from the last world championships two years ago, and 3rd-place overall finish from Ecuador in 2005, the US Men’s Rafting Team could only match their showing in South Korea by stroking to a sixth-place overall finish on the 31-km Class III-IV Vrbas River and Tara River at this year’s World Rafting Championships in Bosnia, a real Whitewater Rafting challenge.
The US team, led by Chris “Mongo” Reeder, reached the mark with a fifth-place finish in the Time Trial event; second-place showing behind Great Britain in the Head to Head Sprint; sixth-place finish in the Downriver portion; and disappointing 13th-place finish in the final Slalom event.
“It’s tough because we hoped we’d do better,” says Reeder, whose team trained throughout the winter by paddling a raft full of rocks in a pool, and even tying it off to a giant bungee cord. “We felt ourselves getting stronger each week while training, but the Bosnia course is a Class III-IV section with a lot of flatwater pools, and we’ve always had an advantage on tougher runs because of our background running steeper rivers. Plus, our team this year had all of the power we had before with 60 pounds less weight.”
Alas, the combination wasn’t enough. Instead, it was powerhouse Brazil surging to first place for the second Championships in a row, with a win in the Time Trial, fifth-place finish in the Head-to-Head Sprint, second-place finish in Downriver and sixth-place showing in Slalom. Japan took the runner-up seat, riding a first-place finish in Slalom and 3rd-place finish in the Time Trials to the podium, followed by Great Britain in third, thanks to a gold-medal performance in the Head-to-head event. Russian and the Czech Republic took 5th and 6th, respectively, with the US trailing in 6th. It's a respectable place, but not good enough for Whitewater Rafting, but we want to be first.
The US women’s team, also out of the Vail, Colo., area, finished two spots back in 8th place overall, with a 7th-place showing in the Time Trial and Sprint event, and two 9th-place finishes in Downriver and Slalom. For the women, it was Canada taking first with a win in the Slalom and 3rd-place showings in the Time Trial and Sprint; followed by Japan in 2nd, riding its 1st-place finish in Downriver to the podium, and the Czech Republic in third.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Colorado River Rafting and EddyFlower’s Vertical Challenge
edited by Whitewater Times
Participants in First Descents getting wet on the Colorado for Colorado River Rafting and around the world.
"We're stoked...it's a great way to raise funds for our mission, while encouraging people to get out and paddle." --First Descents founder Brad Ludden
Now you can get your adrenal glands flowing while getting cash flowing for a good cause.
EddyFlower has teamed up with First Descents for the Third Annual EddyFlower Vertical Challenge, which runs from May 15 through June 15 on rivers throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Created as a fundraiser to aid the fight against cancer by garnering donations for First Descents, a Colorado-based charity organization that focuses on young adults with cancer, the event inspires paddlers to paddle as many river runs as they can over the 32-day period for pledged donations. In addition to raising money for First Descents, the paddlers compete for prizes ranging from a seven-day trip to Panama with Boquete Outdoor Advenures for the person who raises the most donations, to a brand new Fluid Solo Kayak to the person who paddles the most vertical feet.
"We're stoked," says First Descents founder Brad Ludden. "It's a great way to raise funds for our mission, while encouraging people to get out and paddle."
The Annual EddyFlower Vertical Challenge is open to all paddlers (kayakers, rafters, canoers and riverboarders) from all states. Teams of up to five people can register online at www.eddyflower.com to compete in one of six divisions (Open, Class V, Class IV, Class III, Weekend Warrior and Women’s) that best match your team’s skill level. Contestants can track the progress of their team and others on the website, where qualifying river runs and other contest rules are available. All funds raised go to First Descents, a non-profit organization that provides whitewater kayaking and other outdoor adventure experiences to promote emotional, psychological and physical healing for young adults with cancer.
Seventeen sponsors are supporting the event with $17,000 in products and contributions for prizes. In the 2008 Vertical Challenge 48 teams totaling 200 competitors ran more than 1,420,000 total feet while raising more than $28,117 for First Descents.
Founded in the summer of 2001 by professional kayaker Brad Ludden, First Descents has grown from one camp in Vail, CO representing Colorado River Rafting to nine planned camps this summer in six different states. Ludden continues to be the driving force and inspiration behind the charity, donating much of his time to helping run day-to-day operations as well as instructing at camps each summer.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Colorado River Rafting and "Mongo"
edited by Whitewater Times...
“I don't remember where the nickname Mongo comes from. A friend started calling me that when we were guiding together in Boulder..."
Most people associate Mongo with that farting mongoloid on Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. But as head raft guide for Vail, Colo.’s Timberline Tours, and captain of the U.S. Raft Team since 2001, Chris “Mongo” Reeder, 40, is better known for creating blazing paddles. He’s hoping his teams paddles will be blazin’ this week (May 17-23) as his team competes at the World Rafting Championships on the Vrbas River in Bosnia…
Growing up rafting in Maine and guiding rivers throughout the U.S. for more than 22 years, Mongo works on the Vail Ski Patrol during the winter, and runs a side business, Mongo Products, creating rescue and technical equipment for the adventure sports community (mongoproducts.com). But his heart returns to raft competition every spring, this year looking to better his team’s 6th-place showing in the Sprint event and 15th-place showing in Slalom at the 2007 World Championships in South Korea; and third-place overall finish at the 2005 World Championships in Ecuador -- the best finish by a U.S. Men’s team ever – which included a Gold Medal finish in Sprint.
PL caught up him before the trip overseas for some of his thoughts...
In His own Words
“We have two new members on the team since the last worlds in Korea. One is Seth Kurt-Mason, our alternate in Korea who has been paddling with the team for three or four years. The other is Joe Sialiano, who earned his spot on the team by competing with two others for the spot last summer; he was the best paddler from our competition at Nationals last spring). Our alternate is Andrew Bishop.
“We started our training in December and our trainer Topper Hagerman from Howard Head Sports Medicine has come up with a truly sadistic program.
“One thing we did different this year was getting on water twice a week through the winter. With the Worlds held early this year it was crucial to get time in the boat. Gym time and cardio is important, but nothing gets you prepared to paddle like paddling.
“For years our trainer has been dreaming up new ways to add resistance to our boat when on the river, like piling it full of weights or rocks. This year he had us paddling the raft in the pool at the local rec center with the back tied off to the diving board with a big bungee cord. The view never really changed but the resistance is incredible and we felt ourselves getting stronger each week.
“The Bosnia course is a Class III-IV section with a lot of flatwater pools. We’ve always had an advantage on tougher runs because of our background running steep Colorado River Rafting stints, but I think we’ve made some changes that will help us excel on rivers with a few more pools. Our team this year has all of the power we had before with 60 pounds less weight. That could be deadly.
“The biggest threats are the reigning World Champs Brazil, the Russians, the Czechs, the Germans, Canada and the Japanese. We’ll just have to see…but we’re feeling pretty good.
“I don't even remember where the nickname Mongo comes from. My old friend, Harlan, started calling me that when we were guiding together in Boulder and I was drunk most of those years.
Mongos tips for Colorado River Rafting and anywhere ....
edited by Whitewater Times
Mongo’s Tips on Getting Started
“I’ve seen a thousand different approaches to getting beginners down a river, be it Colorado River Rafting or anywhere. Some fail to train their crews properly and then blame the guests when things go wrong. Others feel every guest is looking for a near-death experience. Then you have the screamers, who yell at their guests to motivate them—they live by the creed, ‘The beatings will continue until the paddling improves!’
“Be calm and train your crew until you’re comfortable with them. Crews will generally reflect your own mental state. Panic equals panic. When I’m hiring new guides I’ll generally look for the ones who are having the most fun. If a guide is having a good time, so are the guests.
“Getting paid to make sure people have a good time on the river is one of the best jobs ever. Some of my best crews have been first-timers who haven’t developed any bad habits yet. I love watching someone’s initial fear turn into excitement.
“Select a trip according to your fitness level rather than your prior experience: It’s frustrating to get a men’s lacrosse team signing up for a scenic float trip because they don’t have any experience when they’d have much more fun on something more aggressive.
“One thing I’ve learned is that while a little bit of fear is a good motivator, a horrified guest is “baggage” and will quit paddling at the most inopportune times. Whenever I see the screamers in action I can’t help but think “and these people paid for this? So for any trip you plan whether it's a Colorado River Rafting trip or anywhere in the world follow some good advice here...
Monday, June 1, 2009
For strong paddlers, the Upper Animas is one of Colorado's most memorable rides. It's a wild, 25-mile stretch of Colorado whitewater rafting that parallels the gawker-laden narrow gauge train between Durango and Silverton. The Upper A is swollen with hard (Class IV+ to V) rapids, big waves and ice-cold water. It's a bruiser that many kayakers and whitewater rafters take two days to complete (the train will ferry your overnight gear to a midway campground and pick it up the next morning). Commercial and private rafters take out at Tacoma, before the Class V Rockwood Box. Experts find thrills galore in Rockwood, where sheer, 500-foot walls prevent both escape and scouting — but fall out in Rockwood and be prepared for an overwhelmingly bad swim. Add the must-make take-out eddy just before the entire river pours into a sieve, and Rockwood is the ultimate finish for a mind- and body-rattling paddle trip. Put in at downtown Silverton, take out at Tacoma, and hike up ATV trails to the Haviland Lake Campground. After a mile in Rockwood, the take-out is river right, with a small sign marking the mandatory exit pool. First-timers on the Upper A should bring a veteran. Stay: The Wyman Hotel & Inn in Silverton is a 1902 building that beautifully bridges the gap between old and new — filled with period antiques, it also offers whirlpool tubs. Complimentary breakfast and afternoon tea. Rates start at $115 (1371 Greene St., 970-387-5372, thewyman.com.). Dine: You'll come off the river with quite an appetite, and a good place to hit soon after is Handlebars Restaurant & Saloon, a great old shrine to the mining town, filled with taxidermy and odds and ends from the area's history. The specialty here is the baby-back ribs, slathered in the house sauce, which is also for sale by the bottle. And if you have a "handlebar" yourself, they'll take your photo and hang it with the others (117 13th St., 970-387-5395, handlebarsco.com.).
Ride the Royal Gorge Route Railroad
There are several options for seeing the Royal Gorge, including from the suspension bridge above it and from a raft bouncing along the mighty Arkansas River that runs through it. But one of the best ways to see it up close is on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, which takes you on a 24-mile trip through it, often passing mere feet from the canyon walls, with the river right alongside. Step out onto an open gondola car for the best view, or sit in a dome car and have a gourmet lunch or dinner, or take one of the themed trains, with a murder mystery or wine tasting offered. The train also features a ride in the cab for a lucky few (extra fee). Along the route, you may see blue heron, bighorn sheep, bald eagles and other wildlife, and you can wave to the folks who will see you going past from the hanging bridge and rafts — or book a combination package that will put you on either the train and the bridge or the train and a raft (visit website for details). The train leaves from the Santa Fe Depot in Cañon City. Tickets start at $32.95/adults and $21.50/kids, 888-724-5748, royalgorgeroute.com. Stay: Jewel of the Canyons Bed and Breakfast is a cute little spot in an 1890 Queen Anne house just a few blocks off West Royal Gorge Boulevard; the guest rooms are simple and sweetly decorated, and each has a private bath. Rates start at $99 (429 Greenwood Ave., 866-875-0378, jewelofthecanyons.com.). Dine: Merlino's Belvedere is the locals' choice for upscale dining, not especially fancy but with decent Italian food and big portions. The entrees come with bottomless salad. (1330 Elm Ave., 719-275-5558, belvedererestaurant.com.) Dont forget to experience the colorado whitewater rafting.
edited by Whitewater Times
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Justin Smith, president of the Pikes Peak Whitewater Club, doesn't wait for high water to head to the river.
He took his first whitewater kayak trip of 2009 in February and has been hitting rivers across the state several times a week ever since.
"I've been out on Pine Creek, Numbers, the Royal Gorge," Smith said, naming a string of expert-level Class IV and V whitewater runs. "I've been on Gore about four times. I've been out to Cross Mountain twice. I've been up to Elevenmile a few times."
Still, he said, something changes when Mother Nature and the state's water managers jointly decide it's time to open the taps.
"As the flows start coming up, it's going to be like, 'Oh we've got to go hit this, oh we've got to go hit that,'" Smith said.
In late April, Colorado's mountains got the biggest snowstorm of the year. Last week, that snow began trickling down the peaks, cascading through the state's rivers. The deluge will continue through June, then gradually taper off through July and August.
"I think it's going to be an exceptional year," said owner of Raftecho, Raftecho.com outfitters for Colorado Whitewater Rafting. "Water levels are going to be spectacular."
By "spectacular," he doesn't mean the water will be as high as last year, when a near-record snowpack produced the biggest water the Arkansas has seen in more than a decade. Last year's high water was, in some cases, too much of a good thing, since it led to some voluntary safety closures of the Royal Gorge near Canon City and may have scared away less-intrepid rafters and kayakers.
"We're right in the pocket where we have good flows, but not too good of flows," said Stew Pappenfort, senior ranger for the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. "The season's looking good for Colorado Whitewater Rafting."
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Colorado River Rafting Info
Colorado River Rafting is a hugely popular sport, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who has felt the addiction that the rapids holds that there are more people discovering the thrill of whitewater every year. There are many companies that provide excursions down rivers across the world, and the United States and Canada are no exception.
The number of Colorado river rafting outfitters out there means that rafters have a lot of option when it comes to what they would like to do for their trip. A casual float down Class III rapids or a wild contest with Class Vs are available in almost every state and province. Every outfitter offers at least a five hour trip, with many offering anywhere up to week-long excursions to really explore the rivers across this continent. No matter how long a trip you are planning for, there are some essential items that you need to bring along in order to have the best experience possible.
Protection from the sun
Whether you are embarking on a trip that can be measured in hours or in days, the most important equipment to bring along are items that can protect you from the sun’s rays. Remember, you will be out on open water, and even though you may not feel the heat, there is little protection out there from the sun.
"Most of your efforts go into protecting yourself from the sun," states Brian, a guide with Raftmasters, which runs rafting trips in Colorado on the Colorado, Arkansas, and the Royal Gorge area. To that extent, he always tells rafters to make sure to bring along good sunscreen, a water bottle, and sunglasses.
Virtually every company we talked to agreed that the battle with the sun was the most crucial in deciding what to bring along. Jeff Proctor, of Jeff Proctor Class VI River Runners (which runs river trips down the New and Gauley Rivers of West Virginia, concurs with the basic list set out by Michael, and also adds that other weather considerations are crucial.
"For the shoulder season (when the weather begins to turn), bring a wet suit or paddling jacket."
Both outfitters provide trips that will last for longer than one day, and for these trips some additional thought is needed when preparing your gear.
Proctor points out that foot gear is important. "Folks should come dressed for the river, with a shoe or sandal that can get wet and stay on your feet. You should still feel comfortable walking around on a sandy beach."
Sandy beaches are part of what makes packing for a two-day trip down the Holiday runs a lot easier; "With warm sandy beaches to camp on, you don't need much gear. A light weight tent, a basic sleeping bag and pad is all that you need," states Michael.
As for other equipment, well, both outfitters want to make sure that you always remember the trip, so in the words of Michael “Don’t forget your camera!”
What if you forget?
If you forget something on your checklist, or fail to make a checklist at all, there is no need to panic. Most rafting outfitters have stores at their expedition start-outs where they sell or rent out any equipment that rafters may need.
There is nothing quite like getting out and taking on nature in one of its most powerful forms, so make sure that before you hit the river you prepare for the trip. It’s guaranteed that your first time will not be your last!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
While you vacation in Colorado,Colorado River Rafting adventures are never far away! The wild and scenic Cache la Poudre River starts high in Rocky Mountain Park and flows through Fort Collins. On the other side of the Continental Divide, the mighty Colorado flows west through popular destinations like Glenwood Canyon providing fun family rafting. For those close to Denver, Clear Creek is a popular choice for intermediate to extreme rafting experiences. West of Colorado Springs in the Royal Gorge region is America's most popular river, the Arkansas River, with over 100 miles of available rafting from Browns Canyon to the Royal Gorge. Visitors to the Crested Butte area can enjoy the alpine wonders of the Taylor and Gunnison Rivers.
If Durango is your destination, the Animas River provides convenient family floats and high alpine extreme rafting adventures. Travelling to western Colorado brings you to the desert canyons of the Colorado River and the Green River where multi-day wilderness trips of unsurpassed beauty are the trips of choice.
Raftecho offers a variety of ways to enjoy our rivers. Choose an oar raft, paddle raft or inflatable kayak. Raftecho provides a wide variety of recreational activities including raft and rail, paddle and saddle, whitewater wine and dine, raft and bridge, and adrenaline rafts giving you a variety with your whitewater rafting trip. Your whitewater adventure begins with us! All of the rivers… All of the Dreams.
CREDIT FOR THIS ARTICLE GOES TO THE COLORADO RIVER RAFTING ASSOCIATION and Raftecho.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Have you ever experienced whitewater rafting anywhere? If you have experienced Colorado River Rafting or whitewater rafting anywhere in the world we are looking for your stories to publish in blogs. We want the raw experience that can only be told by you from you and your group. How long you were in the water. Where you were. Who you were outfitting with. What was the memory of thrill after thrill.
I can remember my first time experiencing the ride that seems like yesterday as we were a raft of 4 thrown down the whitewater blasting against rocks, over rocks, past rocks... through waterfalls. At points it was like looking over the top of nothing like on a roller coaster looking out as you are on top of the climb before you can see the track and all you can see is open sky and you know you are about to drop. That feeling of adrenaline in your mind flowing into your head, throat, chest, and stomach reacting with your whole body of controlled bottled fear about to explode into an experience of exhilaration. You start going down the drop and you finally see a track of water and your gushing down shot fast as you free-fall with the water running into a flat plane of water dropping fifty feet ... what a rush and experience! Reply your experience to this article about your memories of exhilaration in Colorado River rafting or any whitewater trip around the world you have experienced. You may win a trip for your entry of your memorable ride!