On the River: Ducky days, tube time
August 15, 2005
White-knuckle rides through churning white water may be but a fond memory for paddling adrenaline junkies, but for river runners who aren’t out for thrills and chills (literally), now is the perfect time to float.The water is warm and considerably less risky. On the Roaring Fork, these are the days when raft companies put their clients in “duckies” – one-person, inflatable kayaks for trips from the Wingo Junction bridge down to just below Basalt. Aspen Whitewater Rafting and Blazing Adventures both offer the ducky trips.”There’s definitely some fun play in them,” said Bob Harris, owner of Blazing Adventures.Local outfitters will be watching the Arkansas closely today. Yesterday was the final day of guaranteed flows arranged by an assortment of rafting companies that purchase supplemental releases to keep the river runable. This year, flows have been strong enough that the Arkansas may continue to produce navigable waters.”For the last four or five years, when we’ve had low water, we knew Aug. 15 was the cutoff – bingo,” Harris said. That may not be the case this summer.On the Colorado River, Shoshone in Glenwood Canyon and the South Canyon stretch continue to lure rafters and kayakers.Paddlers have written off the upper Roaring Fork below Aspen and the Crystal River above Carbondale, though. Water levels have dropped well below the enticing rapids of May and early June, according to Brian Wright, co-owner of Glenwood Springs Canoe and Kayak.The Colorado, however, is a great playground for novice paddlers, he said.The crowd on the Colorado these days includes people floating downriver in inflatable tubes. That’s not a watercraft anyone would have chosen when the river peaked at more than 7,000 cubic feet per second earlier in the season.”Now’s a great time to be out there,” Wright said. Just for the record, at mid-afternoon yesterday, the Colorado was running at just under 1,000 cfs at Shoshone and the Arkansas was running at just over 700 cfs at Browns Canyon. The Crystal, in the once-formidable Meatgrinder section, was moseying along at 198 cfs.