Oh The Places You'll Go, Oh The People You'll See!
In February of 2019, I found myself boarding an airplane with my friend Tony to flee the freezing temps of the Colorado Rockies. We were en route to the Amazon Rainforest and Andes Mountains of Ecuador lugging around massive bags loaded down with 2 rafts, 9 paddles, a barrel pump, our personal rafting gear, camping gear, a bunch of camera equipment, a couple T-shirts/pants, and some vague idea of what we were doing. The morning we left the mountains it was -30 degrees outside, further reaffirming our journey to the southern hemisphere. After 20 hours of flights and layovers, we were picked up at the Quito airport at 12:30am by Rodrigo, a native Ecuadorian with his wife and kid in his little diesel Toyota truck. Rodrigo was sent to bring us to our hostel near Archidona, a mere 4.5 hours away over an 18,000ft mountain pass over the Sumaco volcano and through a drug checkpoint with armed soldiers. I could never sleep in moving vehicles, so I tried to make conversation in butchered spanglish.
The road never stopped winding as I looked out into the darkness of the Andes Mountains, until eventually I began to feel the humidity of the Amazon Rainforest. Around 5:00am, we arrived at the Oso Perizoso Kayak Hostel. Situated on the Rio Misahualli, The Oso Perizoso is owned and operated by Gabriel, a true whitewater enthusiast, a great host, and a joyful man with a kind spirit. By the end of our trip, we would share many paddling adventures with Gabriel when he could come, acquire crucial river beta from him when we went alone, and spend more than a few late nights talking whitewater with our new friend.
Our first day, after approximately 3 hours of sleep, we wake up ready to get on the river. Since we are still waiting for the other two members of our crew, we ask Gabriel what river would be a good "warm-up" for us since we have been snowboarding for the last 4 months. Gabriel says "aha! the Upper Misahualli is flowing!" and calls us a taxi. Our taxi driver, Jean, arrives and receives directions from Gabriel, which we quickly butchered with our over-excitement and language barrier, leading us to get dropped off at a much higher put-in on the Misahualli than Gabo intended. As we arrive a monsoon rain starts, one of the hardest rains I've ever seen. Jean suggests we pump up our boats in an abandoned house, while some local children watch the silly Gringos with a nervous excitement. We put-in on a stretch of river that was by no means a warm-up, instead it was full-on, continuous, steep, Class-IV+ whitewater, and although we did quite well reading-and-running this stout stretch, we realized that the language barrier was dangerous and we shouldn't have gone on that stretch solo with no backup. The brown, muddy rain-water begins to rise, and after 3-4 miles of non-stop action, the rapids eventually mellow a little and we encounter some kayakers. Two kayakers look like they had gotten more than they bargained for, and one kayaker named Dan gave us a little beta. As Dan left us, he turned around and said "watch out for the wall of water when it's raining like this, don't forget to look behind you!" We realized all at once how much we were out of our element. We made it back to the hostel without any drama, when Gabriel informs us that we accidentally coerced Jean to take us to the wrong put-in.
"Just Get In The Cab, Dude.."
We spend a couple days exploring the local rivers and getting acquainted to the jungle-style whitewater before meeting up with our friend Casey, who just arrived from Aspen. Gabriel tells us about the Piatua Libre festival, a river festival aimed at stopping a hydro-dam project from damming up the river for corrupt interests. He says they need as many paddlers as possible to come run the Piatua and show that the river has more valuable uses. We drive to the takeout to meet up with other paddlers, and quickly realize that we are, yet again, the only gringos and the only rafters. We drive to the remote put-in, not knowing what to expect. It is Casey's first day in the jungle, and feeling a little overwhelmed by what's going on, he continues to ask me questions like "what are we getting into", "what is this river like", and "what the hell are we doing out here!" My responses lacked knowledge being that I had only been here a few days, and I also suffered from the language barrier. This is when I first stated what would become a motto of the trip and said "I don't know, man. Between the language barrier and running an unknown river everyday, I just get in the cab and don't ask many questions... Just get in the cab, dude."
The Piatua river was an absolute blast! Steep, rocky rapids required many maneuvers, made more exciting by the fact that we had to read-and-run everything! The continuous Class-IV rapids were occasionally accented with larger Class IV+ rapids requiring must-make moves to avoid plenty of places where you wouldn't want to end up. We had an awesome lap with no carnage, and when we arrived at the take-out, our rafts were swarmed by dozens of local kids who were amazed to see the rafts out there. They commandeered our boats for a while, spinning and playing in the swimming hole. We strolled around to check out the festival, which was unlike any river festival we had ever been to. People of all ages from all around the area were there, not just paddlers, and everybody was dancing and singing to prove their love for their river. They depend on this river for everything, not just recreation, and the hydro-dam project would threaten their very way of life. Piatua Libre was a chance to show the "powers that be" that the people would not just sit back and watch as a corrupt corporation profited at their loss. It was truly a special occasion to partake in.
Fear and Loathing on the Quijos
The next day, we gathered up all of our stuff and headed North to Baeza, a small town nestled among the high Andes mountains. We were warned that the rains had made the rivers too high in the area, but we had to meet Jeff, the last member of our team. Just as we arrived at Gina's hostel, a group of kayakers returned from the Quijos river at high water looking as though they had been through war. One guy had his swollen eye covered with gauze after receiving 7 stitches, a wound caused by his own paddle. Another gentlemen had lost his kayak and paddle to the raging Class-V whitewater, while many others just looked pale and beaten. The next day we had to decide what river to run, and for some reason we decided to run the Bridge-to-Bridge section of the Quijos, the very same stretch as those kayakers the day before. The water level looked manageable when we checked in the morning, but it had been pouring down rain all night and into the afternoon. As we got to the put-in, we were told the level as 16.5 and rising, which is quite high for any craft, especially our small rafts. As the taxis left and we hiked down to the river, the size of the water features seemed much more intense. We had gained a raft since Casey brought his, and we put-in with three R-2 rafts, our new friends Kevin and Eric making up the third, and one kayaker, Val. The first 2 kilometers were absolutely full-on! Our mini-rafts were having a very hard time in the massive waves and holes, each R-2 team having multiple surfs and close calls until eventually Casey and I flipped huge in a massive hole. It took all the strength I had to swim the boat to shore with my paddle in hand through the violent current, but I knew that if I let go of anything it would be gone for good. We cleaned up our mess and continued downstream to a scouting point for a Class-V rapid. We all pulled our boats well onto shore and tried to scout the rapid, but the river was swollen into the trees which made a good scout nearly impossible. In the ten minutes since we stopped, the river turned darker and muddier as it swiftly began to swell. Our rafts which were once on dry land began to float away, and a rock I had been standing on ten minutes earlier was now fully underwater. After the chaos of the top section and the additional rise in water level, a few members of our group were not feeling confident in our mini-rafts as the very high flow got even higher. We made a very hard group decision to walk the rafts to the road before somebody got hurt or we lost a bunch of gear. There is no amount of ego that can save a life when the conditions are wrong, and we all feel that we made a smart decision to takeout early that day,
Middle and Lower Jondachi into the Lower Hollin
The next day we decided to head south again and catch one of the Ecuadorian classics, the Jondachi River! With a few kayakers joining us, we drove to the bridge that separates the Upper Jondachi from the Middle. The water level was too high for the upper section, but the middle section looked like a blast! The Middle Jondachi, which continues into the beautiful lower section with waterfalls coming off every canyon wall. The Jondachi eventually joins with the Hollin river, which was flooding from high altitude rains upstream. This made for a very exciting end to what seemed like 3 different river trips from the creek-like Middle Jondachi, to the friendly and beautiful Lower Jondachi, then ending with the swollen big-water of the Hollin. I finally had a chance to get in a boat alone and R-1 the entire stretch as well, one of my favorite things to do. it was an amazing day covering about 19 miles of river.
Love at First Site on the Upper Jondachi
After many failed attempts at the Upper Jondachi, with some days being too high and some too low, we drove to the bridge one day to find it at the perfect level! A short 15 minute ride to the put-in gets you dropped off at a muddy trail, a little over a mile from the river. A grueling 30 minute hike through knee-deep jungle mud carrying our boats and gear overhead eventually leads to a small foot-bridge over the pounding rapids of the narrow Upper Jondachi. We pump the boats and wash the mud off of ourselves in a small eddy at the edge of a nasty Class-V rapid, then slide the boats down a crack in between two boulders and leap down a sketchy 10ft to finally get on the river. I'm happy to be R-1ing again, even though there's nobody to lean-on and nobody to blame when you're running Class-V rapids alone in a raft, theres a certain amount of peace in knowing that it's all up to you. I navigate the first few rapids before hitting a massive hole that snags my light R-1 into a violent surf. After 2-3 minutes of high-siding and trying to draw my way out to no avail, somebody hollers from the eddy below "do you want a rope?" I respond "YEAH, like 2 minutes ago!" They throw me a rope and pull me out of the surf. No more than another kilometer downstream I get snagged by another massive hole and I'm surfing again! This time I'm trying to high-side and draw my way out when the boat starts violently spinning and heaving under the force of the massive hole. I think "surely someone has the rope out already" but when I look they actually pulled out the big camera from the dry box and started filming instead! I remember thinking, "oh, well at least that's going to be good footage " as I got whipped around in circles like a bucking bull, somehow avoiding flipping or swimming long enough for someone to toss me a rope. The joys of R-1ing, I suppose...
The rest of the river went extremely well, with amazing clear-water rapids stacked on top of each other through beautiful jungle scenery, the Upper Jondachi firmly affixed itself near the top of my "favorite rivers" list. At the takeout, the steep, muddy trail seemed to be quite energy intensive after paddling the stretch alone. The road bridge above with its massive steel beams seemed like an obvious tool to me. "Let's setup a pulley system and yank the boats out of here!" I said, which was met by mockery from the rest of the crew. I ran up and threw my flip line around a steel beam, clipped a pulley from my pfd pocket onto my throw-bag line, and sent down a carabiner to clip the boats onto. With two guys holding the end of the rope and walking backwards while one guy stood at the rail to pull the boat over and onto the bridge, the system worked like a charm and saved us a ton of pulling rafts up the slippery slope. A convenient end to a legendary day!
Jungle Overnight on the Hollin
When we told Gabriel how much we all loved the Upper Jondachi, he was ecstatic. He quickly followed with "Justin, if you loved the Jondachi, you have to do the Upper Hollin, it is my favorite river!" A long time ago, I decided that anytime somebody tells you something like that with such enthusiasm, you have to check out whatever they're talking about! After a much needed rest day, and a fun time exploring the town of Tena during Carnival, We only had two days left to raft. With all the other rivers in the area looking low, and the Upper Hollin being a 30-some mile, 2-day jungle overnight adventure, we decided to heed Gabo's advice and check out his favorite river. The journey begins with a 1.5 hour taxi ride into the middle of nowhere in the Sumaco Forest reserve, we are dropped off at a bridge crossing a river with massive waterfalls everywhere you look. We blow up our rafts and rig our overnight gear in the ever-present, warm jungle rain and put-in on the Hollin.
Spelunking... In a Raft?
The Hollin starts with a few boogie rapids that quickly put you deep into the jungle. Going only off of the beta provided by Gabriel, we quickly come to the most unique rapid I have ever seen. The entire width of the Hollin river slams into a wall on river-right and carves it's way through a cave with a Class-IV rapid inside! We were told to eddy-out above the cave and hike below the cave to check for dangerous wood/strainers inside. Casey and I plan our line around the mess of obstacles and hike up to give 'er a go. Our line goes perfectly, avoiding the massive boat-flipping hole at the bottom and thankfully not needing Jeff's rope from the left shore. Next, Tony and Jeff run the rapid perfectly as well. We had 3 kayakers on the trip, who were still scouting after both rafts made clean passage. Being that kayakers give us rafters undue grief all the time, it felt pretty good to holler "whether you guys are running it or walking it, it's time to do it! It's still raining and we have 15 miles to get to camp!" One of the kayakers decided to run the rapid, and did so well, while the other two decided not to risk it and portaged down the left shore.
After the Cave Rapid lies a series of very exciting rapids with creek-like moves through boulder fields and lots of water to juice it up. The crux of the run is a Class-V waterfall with nasty holes, undercut rocks, and major consequences. Typically most boaters portage this rapid, but it looked like it went! If we weren't in the middle of the jungle with no hope for rescue, and laden by all of our overnight gear in mini-rafts, I think it would have been a blast to run. Instead, we took Gabriel's advice and portaged on the left.
The rapids continue for miles upon miles, gaining more water as tributaries pour over waterfalls everywhere you look. the Class-IV rapids eventually give way to big-water Class-III wave trains and river-wide holes as the rain begins to catch up to us. Gabriel told us that there is one more rapid that wasn't worth the risk, "a Class-II move, but you die if you don't make it." When we got there it was quite obvious. The entire river smashes into a hole, which is backed-up by an undercut rock, and to make it better a new log is blocking the acceptable route. The "Fun-to-Death Ratio" was too high, we portaged.
Jungle Camping at it's Finest
Looking for camp, we only had one piece of vital beta to go on: "Camp on the left at The Indiana Jones Bridge." If we missed it we would be sleeping in thick jungle. After about 15 miles of awesome whitewater in the rain, the sun broke through and shined upon what was quite obviously the Indiana Jones Bridge. We caught the eddy on the left and hiked up to a rugged, rarely used camp in the middle of the rainforest, surrounded by vine-covered trees with all the jungle music you could ever want. Tony and Joey ventured onto the dilapidated bridge while Jeff looked for snakes and critters, the rest of us setup our hammocks and tarps and enjoyed some warm cervesa, cold empenadas, and some kind of jungle-juice while the night fell upon the jungle. When darkness neared, massive bats swooped around the tree tops, eating up insects, except the large lightning-roach things which had glowing eyes on their wings, some yellow, some orange. Since fire was absolutely out of the question, we told stories around a headlamp/water-bottle lantern until the jungle-juice set in. It was a perfect night in the jungle, a hundred miles from anywhere.
The next day was a relaxing float through the jungle with a bunch of Class-II and III rapids surrounded by waterfalls. The secret to a good multi-day trip is the side-hikes... Especially if the side hikes don't require too much hiking and end in swimming holes at the bottom of awesome waterfalls! It's all the things you wanted to do as a kid, but didn't have the gear or skills. Cheers to never growing up!
Packing up all the wet gear, giving some away to our new friends, and catching a 4.5 hour ride back over the volcano was bitter-sweet. Leaving behind our new friends and all those awesome rivers was bitter, but heading back to the High-Rockies, where I could finally stop sweating and hiding from mosquitos was sweet. The 29 hours of travel on the way home wasn't that bad... Except for U.S. Customs is Miami... turns out they don't understand our lifestyle that well.
Ecuador is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The people are some of the kindest, most honest, and most empathetic people on the planet. It was refreshing to see a culture built around "what we have" rather than the more common materialistic culture of "what we want". They were so honest and caring to a group of gringos like ourselves, even while butchering their language and doing silly things like rafting. One day Tony left the $3,000 camera in the taxi, and we didn't realize until we were halfway through our sketchily-delicious fried chicken meal with chicken-feet soup.. Tony called Gabriel, Gabriel called the taxi driver, and the guy dropped it off 10 minutes later. Everyday they would charge us fair taxi prices, hand us back money after the language barrier made us think we owed twice as much, and hold onto our dry clothes for the entire day while they waited to pick us up at some bizarre muddy two-track road somewhere. We liked Jean so much that we requested him as much as possible. He always charged us so little, so we'd tip huge. That made him start charging less, so we tipped more because he was always so honest and thankful. Out of everything that I encountered in Ecuador, I think the people made the most lasting impression.
We'd like to offer the most sincere THANK YOU to the people and rivers of Ecuador; Mr. Gabriel G, Nadia, and the lovely ladies at Oso Perizoso; Andres "Char" for the sick beta on the Upper J; Piatua Libre; Rodrigo, Jean, the many other fair taxi drivers; Eric B, Jacque, and Jan, our French-Canadian friends; Kevin and "Medium Spiecy Flow"; Gina for dank meals; Val, Joni, Joey, and Kelsey for kayaking along; The Kichwa people; the makers of La Fiesta De Todos Pilsner, and the everyday warriors of the T.S.A.
A wiser man than myself once said "If you do what you love for a living, you'll never work a day in your life!"
Hasta Luego Amigos!
Owner/G.M. - Adventures in Whitewater
The upper Colorado River is overflowing with history and beautiful views.Starting at Pumphouse and ending at Rancho this stretch of river is great for fishing or family trips. You can expect rapids from class II to III. If you're lucky you may even see some wildlife. There are also lots of great campsites along the river, most of which you can only get to from the water. If you're looking for a fun, beautiful, beginner stretch of river to get your toes wet in whitewater then the upper C is where you need to be.
It starts as a whisper. Sometimes in January, sometimes not until May. But always, every year, someone is the first to mention it. We watch as the water levels climb slowly, then climb quickly, then start to dwindle. Then, the Clear Creek Intermediate stretch stops running, and we know it's close. And then, we watch the river gauge through July, knowing that it's coming. Finally, around the third week in July, it finally arrives. The Colorado River Gauge at Gore canyon drops below 1300 CFS, and it's official. Gore season has started!
Colorado is a campers paradise. Just step outside your tent and you can be surrounded by beautiful views. Most of Colorado is just about bug free do to its dry weather, which is an added bonus to making camping more enjoyable. Colorado was the first state I was able to sleep out under the stars and not get eaten alive. However Kremmling CO has the greatest amount of mosquitoes I have ever experienced, and I'm from Minnesota which is the mosquito capital.
There are hundreds of free off the grid camp site all over the state. If you're lucky enough to come to Colorado in early fall, I recommend checking out the Idaho Springs area. All of the leaves are changing colors and and it's amazing. In the mountains the "fall" season is very quick, the leaves turn colors and fall off in a matter of a week so you have a small window of time to change this magnificent site. Meanwhile down in Denver the leaves could just be starting to change colors, while up in the mountains they have already fallen off.
Winter park Colorado.
Gore Canyon not only has Class 5 whitewater rapids on the Colorado River but a gnarly hike along the canyon! The trailhead is at the Pumphouse put-in for our whitewater trips on the Upper Colorado River. When I'm not working at Adventures in Whitewater I spend my free time traveling around Colorado and trying to see those unique views you don't get from the postcards. Gore Canyon trail definitely came through because I've never hiked a trail like it! You start out right along the water and end up fairly high above the river. It was a very narrow path and at times right along the edge of a cliff like the photo above. I went about two miles in before turning back but I can't wait to go back for more hiking (and rafting!)
Living in a van is definitely not for everyone. For some it is their way of life, nothing beats a full tank of freedom and the open road.
Showers for some, are an everyday necessity. Not when you live in a van, showers are few and far between. Usually if we're lucky we find a shower every 3 days or so, however there has been longer periods of time without. In those cases you are so thankful for some warm running water. Living in a van has taught me a lot about what is actually important and necessary in life. For instance you don't need 20 pairs of shoes and 50 matching outfits. What is important is food and happiness. If you learn to enjoy the simple things in life happiness will come to you.
Meals in the van consist of lots of cans; chicken, tuna, vegetables, and soups. Some other favorites are PBJs, tuna sandwiches, rice, pastas, and good ole Ramon noodles. You may wonder how all of this could be worth it? How can you live in your vehicle and survive without a daily shower and a microwave? We actually have noticed that we are so much happier now days and less stressed. One of our favorite sayings is, "We've got nowhere to be and all day to get there". Imagine quitting your job, selling/donating everything you own and moving into a van with your dog and boyfriend of 3 years with no plans of where and what your going to do..... Sounds crazy right!? Well that's just what we did about 5 months ago and we haven't looked back. Being able to go anywhere and see everything has been an amazing experience. We usually camp out in Walmart parking lots because its the most convenient and its FREE. Which is most important when you're budgeting for van life. We have gotten very good at finding free things to do such as; free camping spots, dog parks, hiking trails, swimming and some free museums. If we ever run low on funds we simply find a town we'd like to stay in for a month or so and work until we can leave and continue on our travels. So far we've milked cows in Minnesota for a month. Now working at Adventures in Whitewater for the season.
Our actual plan is to try and hit every state so we can decide where we would like to live. we plan to end our trip with hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
So far we have gone through; Minnesota, Wisconsin, South and North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. After we finish out the summer in Colorado we are heading back west to see Oregon then work our way south. If you are thinking about doing something like this or even just a long road trip, make sure you pick your fellow roadtrippers carefully. Remember you will be in a confined space for hours on end with this person. Luckily Chris and I haven't killed each other yet.
Check out some of our adventures below!
Pictured above, Williams Fork Reservoir. Near Parshall, Colorado.
Pictured above, Hole in the Wall, Outlaw Hideout. Kaycee, Wyoming.
My favorite place so far. Hiking in Olympia, Washington.
Somewhere in Montana. Moments before Chris's longboard wipeout where he ripped most of his skin off and fractured his wrist. I was driving the van going 55 mph just to keep up.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
Or.. as some like to call it Kremmtucky.
Kremmling has a little something for everyone. Located right between Winter Park and Steamboat Springs it makes for a nice pit stop as you are surrounded by cliffs and beautiful mountain ranges. Bring your kids, grandparents, and dogs; you are sure to have a great time. Hike to the top of the cliffs to get a magnificent view of the whole town.
Looking to get on the Colorado river? We've got you covered; come rafting with Adventures in Whitewater for a grand time with the whole family. Can't get enough, we also do overnight camping trips right on the river for a full Colorado experience. If you are just passing through, maybe stop and relax at the city park, located conveniently next to the drive through liquor store. Kremmling also has a few restaurants and bars for all you foodies to check out. Seriously you should be here.
Fun fact the Grand Canyon was named after the Grand river. Which is what the Colorado river was originally named because the mouth of the river starts in Grand County and runs 1,450 through the Grand Canyon and to the Gulf of California.
Not everyone can guide for AW. Of course there are the high standards of guiding, the long hours, and the close proximity to other staff through the duration of the summer. Because of this, we have developed a team of misfits, who all share on goal- to bring you on the best rafting trips, ever.
Our most senior guide, and without doubt the most experienced guide in the company, is Eric Creech. My first experience with this fine example of a guide was during my guide training- five years ago. I clearly remember a man who was harsh, abrasive even, towards his students. I only took three days of training with Creech, but to this day I credit him as the guide that taught me how it was done.
My most vivid memory of training with Creech was not from when I was being trained by him. I was with another guide, struggling to learn to maneuver a boat on the Arkansas river at low water, when I look over and see Creech's training boat being pulled over by none other than Creech himself. Apparently, the trainees failed to follow his directions, hit a rock sideways, didn't highside, and their trainer did what we call "closed the coffin"- pulled the boat over sideways by hand.
Fast forward three years to 2016- my partner Justin and I were hanging around the boathouse in Kremmling, when none other than Creech walked in, mentioning that due to a medical concern he could no longer guide class IV like he has been doing for likely 75 years, and was going to have to switch to a more beginner friendly river. So, we hired him on to guide the Upper Colorado River- one of our most popular trips- and now he is one of the main trip leaders out of our Kremmling location.
I remember one day last year I rode along one of his trips on the Upper C, and let me tell you, I have honestly not had that much fun on a beginner raft trip in my life. So come check out a raft trip guided by a true professional, and ask for Creech as your guide!
Every year during the first weekend in June, the Friends of the Yampa in Steamboat Springs, Colorado hosts a river festival. During this, there is a downriver raft race. Last year, in 2016, we went up there with almost all our staff, and entered two boats into this race. With hard work, and some solid guiding by Justin, we managed to clinch a time good enough to score first place.
This year, we decided we needed to go back for more. We put a crew together, but the day before the race we had one of the biggest trips in AW history. So, come Saturday morning, everyone was so tired they didn't have it in them to race. The only two that were feeling up to it were myself and one of our trainers, Johnny. We used an idea that the group came up with the previous night to try to allow a group of two to be competitive in the race.
Basically, we attached two stern mount oarframes to one of our 13' boats facing each other. This would allow one guide to pull, while the other pushed and steered the boat. With registration closing at 12:30, we left Kremmling at 11:48 for a one hour drive to Steamboat. We arrived at the festival a little after 1:00PM, and were told at the registration tent that registration had closed, and we would have to try to drive up to the put-in at Fletchers pond, and ask if we would be able to get on there.
We parked at the put-in, and hurried up to talk to the race coordinator, Ken, who remembered us from last year, and told us we would definitely be able to race. We paid our entry fees ($20! Friends of the Yampa Rock!!), and went about putting air in the boat. We drew numbers out of a hat to determine the race's start order. We got #6, and selected our team name- "The Bowless Boyz"- a pun on our boat not having a real bow and stern (front and back).
As the race had a sprint start, we lined up 6th in a long line of 17 boats that were participating, and waited for our turn to launch. The referee started us, and we sprinted carrying our boat 200 feet towards the Yampa River. We shoved the boat into the water, and got in, finding ourselves already in the bushes because we gave the boat too big of a shove starting off. We got to our seats, found the current, and began pulling the boat down river. During the briefing for the race, we were told multiple times to make sure we went to the right when the river forked,as there was a bridge that was not passable at the current water level. We were moving at a full sprint, making sure to veer right at all of the islands, when I heard Johnny tell me there was a bridge coming up. I looked over my shoulder to see a bridge that didn't look quite tall enough for our boat to make it under. We looked each other in the eyes, and decided we were going to try for it anyways.
We pulled under the bridge, and the oars had maybe an inch of spare room above them, but we made it! We continued downriver, starting to feel the effects on our muscles of nearly 20 minutes of full steam rowing. Then I hear Johnny tell me he can see the finish line. We put as much muscle as we could into the oars, and pulled in strong to Charlie's Hole- sending the boat almost vertical as we slammed into it!
After the race, we heard them announce the results- First place went to our main competition, with us finishing about 40 seconds behind them. We went over to congratulate the winners, and pick up our second place trophy(nothing), and headed back to Kremmling!
We will be back next year to try again for first place!