On the River: River’s not for novices now
Raging rivers are ensuring excellent spring rafting and kayaking, but river rats say beginners might want to avoid the water until the heavy flow subsides.”This is a time for experienced boaters only – or take a guided raft trip,” said Tim Cochrane, a boater and head of Vail Mountain Rescue. “There’s some awesome rafting on the Eagle River right now, but only if you’re an expert.”Consistent warm temperatures at high elevations are melting snow and flooding rivers with cold water. Many rivers in Colorado are reaching their highest levels right now, and fast-running water in the middle to bottom depths of the river can suck a person underwater, Cochrane said.”The river wants to take an object and slam it to the bottom,” Cochrane said. “At some point you will come back up. It could bring you back up in a few miles, a few months or right away.”The bone-chilling temperature of the water poses a threat by itself.”If you spend an extended amount of time [in the water], hypothermia is a concern because the water in the river was snow several hours before,” said Sean Glackin, owner of Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards.A wetsuit can provide a bit of protection from the cold, Cochrane said.If a boater falls into the river, it’s likely that swimming to shore will take longer than in wimpy waters.”The chances of a longer swim are greatly increased because eddies in the river are smaller and make self rescue and getting out of the river more difficult,” Glackin said.Cochrane recommends wearing a life preserver out on the water because a human body is not buoyant enough to float in the fast-moving water. Inflatable tubes or rafts should not be used right now, Cochrane said.The high waters should subside more quickly than normal – likely in the next 10 to 12 days. Less-experienced boaters can get on the water then, Cochrane said.”I would just tell the novices and amateurs to come back in a couple of weeks,” he said.Otherwise, there’s plenty of water for everyone.”Get out there and enjoy it while it’s here,” Glackin said. “This is the best time of the year to be a rafter or kayaker.”
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FREAK POWER AT 50: Stories from the Aspen Times archives on Hunter S. Thompson’s campaign for sheriff
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