Friday, June 14, 2013

The First Month of Wetness

The past three weeks have absolutely flown by!  I’ll give you a rundown week by week…

The first week I was here we had one goal: get Elise (the other one) certified to guide in the Royal Gorge (class 4-5 rapids).  However, the water did not want to cooperate with that goal.  By that I mean the water was around 280 CFS (aka: super stinkin’ low!) making it nearly impossible for us to get down in the gorge during the first part of the week.  But we made the most of it and got Amy and Ryan going on guide training.  Since they were just learning the basics of guiding myself and the other returning guides navigated the more technical rapids.  Two things: 1) Guiding a raft is a lot like riding a bike, it comes back quickly. 2) I never want to raft the Arkansas at 280 CFS ever again!  Its just not fun.  Later in the week the water started to go up and we were able to finally get in the Gorge so Elise could get in some training.  By weeks end Elise was qualified to take people down the Royal Gorge and the boathouse was beginning to look more put together and ready for the season. 

On May 19th, Cori and Ben finally arrived which allowed us to finally start doing some “whole staff” types of things.  For example, team building/low ropes initiatives and rock climb training.  That second week involved those things and more training for Ryan, Ben, and Amy.  They actually caught on to guiding really quickly!  The rest of May was fairly uneventful.  A few things we did do included a visit to Westcliffe and swiftwater rescue training.  Thankfully it was not as cold as it was last year so I did not experience hypothermia while doing swiftwater training. 

Journey Quest guides (Ryan, Ben, Elise, Elise, Amy, Cori, Josh)

Elise climbing up a crack

Concert in the park at Westcliffe

Elise and Cori in the boat

Throw bag practice during Swiftwater Rescue Training

June 4th-6th was our first multi-day trip.  A group from Albuquerque, NM came up to do some teambuilding and a full day on the river.  They were pretty cool!  I really enjoyed hanging out with the group, however, the weather decided to be cold, windy and cloudy the day we were on the river.  But the group made the most of it and we still had a great time!  It’s hard not to have a good time on the river this year because the water is so high!  Seriously, last year we were happy to have a day over 400CFS and this year we’ve been running at or above 1500CFS most days!  If you don’t know… CFS stands for Cubic Feet per Second.  In other words, a kitchen sink holds about 1 cubic foot.  If the river is running at 1000CFS that means that 1000 kitchen sinks are running past any given point in the river ever second.  If you want to track the CFS in our area feel free to check out this website

Our first multi-day group doing a team building activity

More team building.  ...really!

Me hitting a hole in Spikebuck rapid

On June 7th we went up river to Brown’s Canyon which is in between Buena Vista and Salida.  Most of us had not guided up there before and we were planning to raft that section with a group who is coming next week.  This was significant to me because the very first rafting trip I’d ever been on was with Noah’s Ark in Buena Vista back in 2004.  I don’t remember much about the rafting but I do remember loving it and if you would have told me then that I would be back in that very spot 9 years later as a guide I wouldn’t have believed you.  But sure enough, its true!  Brown’s Canyon is really pretty!  It’s much more foresty and secluded.  Big Horn Sheep Canyon (what we normally run) is more deserty and runs right along a highway.  I do still prefer the rapids in Bighorn Canyon, but it’s nice to run a different section of the river once in awhile. 

Earlier this week most of our staff went on a backpack training trip in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains near Westcliffe.  Only Mark, Josh, Amy and I were left to take care of things at the boathouse.  We had a few day trips, but mostly did work projects and cleaning/organizing around the boathouse.  Amy and I also found some time to make a highly informative video that you can check out here

The past few days have been insane!  At least in reference to the water levels.  The water has been between 2600 and 2900CFS!  To give you a little bit of an idea of how intense that is the Royal Gorge closes to commercial vessels at 3200 because it’s just too dangerous to run at that level!  Seriously, the waves are almost bigger than our rafts and our rafts are 13-14 feet long!  I cannot say it enough, the rafting this year is SOOOOO much different (and more fun/wet) than last year!  I’m using a lot of explanation points because it literally is that crazy!

Also, fires have hit the state of Colorado in the past few days.  There is a giant fire in Colorado Springs, another fire in Rocky Mountain National Park, and a few others have also started in Pagosa Springs.  However, the one that has been most concerning to us is the one that is in Canon City.  It started in the Royal Gorge and has burnt many structures already.  We did have some rain showers this afternoon/evening so hopefully that helped out the fires.  It doesn’t seem like the fire will come near where we are, but parts of the river are closed off because of the fire so it’s effecting the rafting industry significantly. 

Next week I’ll be on a week long trip with a youth group.  We’ll be spending several days on the river and a day rock climbing.  We are still without internet and phone service so please be patient with me if you are trying to contact me.  Hope you all are doing well!  I’ve been having a great summer so far and I know God is working in my life and through our staff this year and I’m excited for the rest of the summer.