On the River: Bite the bullet | AspenTimes.com

On the River: Bite the bullet

Chad Abraham

We burned a bowl in a bullet before putting in near Woody Creek. A grouchy fisherman from the East Coast was exasperated when we placed the raft near his hole and told him the shuttle would take 20 minutes.We made our preparations as he took his ill will a bit farther upstream. With the van and trailer in place at the Lazy Glen take-out, we settled in for a blissful ride during one of the best runoffs in recent memory. It is hard to turn down a rafting invitation in any year, but saying no to the river this summer would be blasphemy.The cooler was stocked with beer, two kinds of peanuts and some apricots, more than enough provisions for the six of us on a 90-minute tour. The Roaring Fork was still high enough that we had to duck under a pedestrian bridge, hoping that a board or a rusty nail didn’t rip into our backs.Safely by the trestle, we dipped into the cooler and soaked up Snowmass Canyon, paddling occasionally. The mellowness ended around Snowmass Creek, which was roaring into the Fork so hard that it nearly ripped the paddle out of my hands.Up ahead were a few rapids, nothing major … save for one giant wave that knocked me from my front left seat into the middle of the boat. It took me completely by surprise and left me flat on my back. I should have grabbed the rope that rings the raft. But had I done that, who would my fellow shipmates have to laugh at?Luckily, I didn’t flatten the co-worker behind me or, like another colleague who was on the river recently, fall out of the boat. Most importantly, the beer was undisturbed.I had learned another lesson about the river that day: It can knock you down just like the bullet we had on board. But our cartridge was for a different, more peaceable use. And after getting knocked on my ass, I was definitely ready to again bite the bullet.