Rafting the crazy Clear Creek

This weekend's adventure was white water rafting Clear Creek, between Idaho Springs, CO and Golden. I drive by that creek all the time on I-70 and Route 6 on the way to and from snowboarding, and I've never thought of it as a big deal, but we've had an great year for snow and rain and this is high season, so it turns out that there are class 3 through class 5 rapids to ride. I've been rafting before, but class 3 tops, so I figured it should be a blast, especially since I'm rather scared of water.

I got in a group with 12 of my friends, and we went for a full day trip Saturday. In the morning, we started off on the class 3s, and had a couple of incidents in class 4 areas. Melisse fell out of the boat entirely at one point and Noah and Philippe had to haul her out of the water. And then we wrapped our raft around a high rock, and had to do some very frantic "high-side" maneouvers to avoid flipping the entire rig. I lost my paddle a couple of times, usually catching it on a rock in a middle of a stroke, but once I ditched it when Dawn lunged to prevent me from pitching off the boat as it lurched to port, and then I had to lunge to hold her in when the boat lurched back to starboard.

It was wild fun, though. Our guide Sean started by making us yell "Yee- haw" after we survived each class 4 section (he's from West Virginia but he's rafted a lot on the Zambezi). We, being the group we are, decided that wasn't multi-culti enough and added a French "Hourah" and an Igbo "Chineke" (literally "GOD ALMIGHTY!") Zelda said "I think 'Chineke' is the most satisfying yell", and indeed, we all practiced it a good deal.

So what, after lunch, do we do after all that? Up it to class 4/5, of course. Melisse, Maggie and Noah had had enough and bailed, but the rest of us tackled the bottom, harder part of the course. Amazingly, though we went through ridiculously huge drops, spins and slides with names like "tornado turn", "guide ejector", "double knife", etc., we didn't eject anyone or flip the raft. A bloody good thing because looking at that churning mess, it would have been a pretty dire situation if someone ended up in the water. The guide company had a spotter/rescue dude with a mean hand at his kayak, but even he would have had difficulty getting to someone through all that.

I had a serious case of omni-pain (a term, all too familiar to first- time snowboarders) all that night and the next day from all the hard paddling and lurching about, but man was that a rush. I'll have to give it a go again, soon. Especially if we see epic white water like that again.

Big up to our guide Sean who kept us undrowned, and to High side adventures, the guide company.

More pictures on Flickr

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia