On the River: Cheap thrills
ASPEN Boulder Field, Slaughterhouse, Double Drop, Toothache, Sledgehammer.The rapids are roaring, and for local river rats, the timing couldn’t be better.Area rivers are on the rise, prime whitewater awaits, and the tourists won’t arrive en masse for another month or more. And, both upvalley rafting outfitters are offering locals specials.Blazing Adventures, based in Snowmass Village, and Aspen Whitewater Rafting, are offering river trips on the Roaring Fork for $39. The deal runs through June 20 with Aspen Whitewater and June 17 with Blazing Adventures (the latter is also providing a voucher for a free beer at the Cantina to every local who takes advantage of the discount).Slaughterhouse Falls, a 7-foot waterfall below Aspen, is a highlight of the upper Fork run from Stein Park to the takeout at W/J Ranch. Flows have been topping 650 cubic feet per second over the falls, which means it’s big enough to run in a raft, said Jim Ingram at Aspen Whitewater Rafting.In fact, the entire stretch, which takes about two hours to run, offers one thrill after another, Ingram said, rattling off the names rafters and kayakers who know the waters well gave the various rapids – Entrance Exam, Boulder Field, Slaughterhouse Falls, Hell’s Half-Mile, the Picket Fence, Spool Rapid, Double Drop, Sunshine and Five-O Wave.”It’s full-on, solid Class-4 whitewater,” Ingram said.Blazing Adventures calls the Slaughterhouse section Class 4/5, but who’s quibbling? One thing’s certain: As the water comes up, it only gets increasingly gnarly.The slightly milder Woody Creek run, from W/J to Wingo Junction, offers Class 3 action, or Class 3/4, depending on who’s making the call. It takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours to run and offers its own scream-if-you-need-to moments – Toothache, Snowmass Wave, Snowmass Hole and Sledgehammer among them.Aspen Whitewater Rafting can be reached at 920-3511; the phone number for Blazing Adventures is 923-4544.Local outfitters also offer trips on the Arkansas River on the other side of the Continental Divide, once Highway 82 over Independence Pass reopens (scheduled May 24).
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