Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Whitewater Rafting, The Arkansas River Valley

Cañon City is built around the Arkansas River, where it comes through a narrow gorge and starts to go into less mountainous terrain. There are about 20 companies that offer whitewater rafting tours through the River Gorge. We chose Lost Paddle Rafting, which I cannot say enough good about. This company is small but capable, and you really feel important to them. The day we toured our company had two boats. In comparison, some of the other outfits had 8 boats and were shuffling people and things around. At one point we overheard a guide calling for 6 life jackets and helmets, and more food for people they had standing around.

The camping situation in Cañon City left something to be desired. For one thing it was super hot, and there was no shade in our campground. On the other hand we didn't pay much at all.

We ended up staying most of the first afternoon in town, trying to get out of the heat. We watched a movie and hung out at a local coffeehouse.

Wednesday morning we got up and broke camp in order to get to the real reason for being in Cañon City: the rafting. It was awesome. We did a full day pass, which was 9-3, with a break for lunch. Our guide, Larry, was very capable and hospitable. If you go to Joel's blog you can see the rafting photo we got.

Sorry, no one actually fell out of the boat, but both of us almost did at one rapid or another. We were in the front the whole day which was super wet and super fun. I enjoyed every minute of it, even though you can't tell in the photo. I also didn't want to fall out. The temperature was just about perfect, the scenery was to die for, and the adrenaline rush was pretty cool too. :)

After rafting we hopped in the car to take the scenic route north. We could have backtracked to the interstate, but some motorcyclists had given us some good advice about going west into the mountains. And what's a trip to Colorado without being in the mountains?

So we went west and then north, following the Arkansas River. It was so beautiful and so relaxing. There were tons of camping signs, and I drove for about 3 hours through. Our advisers had suggested going to a little town far north. What they failed to mention was that it was at the end of the valley.

The temperature was lovely. The road was right along the river, so the whole time we could glance down at the rapids (similar to what we had just experienced in the boat) and imagine camping right there. I got so used to seeing campgrounds that I assumed we would see them after our dinner stop as well.

We ate dinner at a mining town. The restaurant had a lot of character but the town did not have much hope for the future. It was kinda sad. You could tell these were not the good old days any more. So we decided not to stay there that night but to push on to the next campground.

But there wasn't a next campground. Somehow we had gone through the whole valley and now we were at the top of a pass, in the middle of lush forest, but no campgrounds were in sight. After 3 hours of searching, and maybe a little arguing, we finally stopped and asked a local who responded "I just go up into the national forest up there when I want to camp. Anyone can camp there for free!"

So at about 10:30 we drove up and up into the forest, trying to get away from the RVs and campers. We found a meadow with only two RVs and wearily pitched our tents, vowing to stay put for two nights in this (hopefully) peaceful meadow.

1 comment:

littlebiggirl said...

You've given me great ideas for my next trip with Justin! I'd love to go camping with him, just the two of us.