The Rio Grande river is running high and fast with a bigger than normal snow pack this last winter. It is July and there are big rocks in the river you still can’t see the tops of.
Along the river, rafters park their vehicles in pull off’s, pull on their orange life preservers, board inflated rubber rafts and edge into the cold water, eight to ten people a trip going for a bumpy joy ride down stream..
For several miles their hired river guides maneuver them safely through white water, and the rafters, excited after the trip, have an experience to talk about for years.
The highway from Creede to Alamosa, Colorado follows the river, as do railroad tracks, and the entire landscape drops in altitude from ten thousand feet above sea level to a mile above sea level in Alamosa.
This area used to have hard rock miners leading their donkey’s into wild canyons around us where they would start a hole high up in the side of a mountain and throw the diggings down hillsides like a burrowing animal. On Saturday night the prospector’s would clean up, a much as they could, and go into Creede to gamble, chase women, fight, and brag about their prospects. Riding the river would have been seen as something only crazy people would do.
The rafts, passing me where I pull my car off the road to watch, hug the middle of the river where the water is deepest and the rapids are most challenging.
Occasionally, there is a news report of a tourist losing their life in one of these rafts on the river, but that is rare and not enough to keep most people from doing what they have a mind to do.
Riding rapids is what we are all doing these days, whether we are on the river, or not.
I can hear their excited voices as they bounce up and down on the river like a bunch of bronco busters.