On the River: Grand Canyon on the brain
A wise old Aspenite once told me: “We’re here for a good time, not for a long time.”So, when I got a call from a friend from back home in Massachusetts about a slot open on a boat trip down the Grand Canyon, I didn’t hesitate.And since the day I found out I earned the last coveted job as one of four safety kayakers on the 16-person trip, I’ve been kind of dazed and confused – like a lottery winner or a man newly in love.Any given afternoon finds me gazing slack-jawed at YouTube footage of Grand Canyon boaters being flipped and thrown by the massive silt-choked rapids of the Colorado, and I study the recordings something like high school football coach preparing for the big game. I’ve even got my line picked out on Lava Falls and plan to tackle “the meat” at Crystal Rapid head-on if I can muster the moxie.I’ve taken every opportunity to get out on the river recently, hitting the Cemetery section of the Roaring Fork in the early morning Wednesday and Shoshone on the Colorado River near Glenwood whenever I can.Obsessed with gear, I’m trying not to buy my way into debt, but I found a good solo tent fit for the desert for cheap in Glenwood Springs and splurged on a thin neoprene shirt good for paddling in the heat.I am far from daunted by the prospect of no showers, pooping in a bucket and living simply under the stars for more than two weeks, and catch myself practicing my Eskimo roll setup while talking on the phone or imagining what it would look like if the office flooded with 20 feet of silt-choked Colorado River water.And the other day while catching my breath after paddling on the “all day wave” on Shoshone, I realized if I time things just right and race these water molecules to Arizona by car, I could be paddling the same flow in a week.The mind reels.
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Longtime Aspenite Mark Howard’s new memoir, “A Rewiring Life,” chronicles a life of change across five decades in Aspen.