On the River: Sock It ‘Sacked’

Carolyn SackariasonAspen, CO Colorado

Forty miles of serenity and one mile of absolute fear-induced adrenaline.That sums up my latest river trip on the Colorado between Loma, Colo., and Cisco, Utah. We put in late Friday afternoon, met up with our buddy Kevin, who was camped out at Rattlesnake, a few miles downriver.After many beers and laughs, my four friends, and the three dogs and I passed out under the stars.An early morning push-off enabled us to float through Ruby Horsethief on Saturday to Black Rocks, where our sandy beach campsite was waiting. Until recently, getting the good campsites were on a first-come, first-served basis. But, because that stretch of the Colorado is so popular now, you’re supposed to sign up at the Loma put-in for whatever site you want downriver. We followed the rules and got screwed. We pulled over for lunch and watched several boats pass us. By the time we got to my favorite campsite, No. 9, a group already was camped out – apparently they are still living by the first-come, first-served mantra of Ruby Horsethief. They told us we could join them, but as soon as we saw the kids running around, we elected to keep floating. We found a rogue campsite further downstream, which worked out well since we had fewer miles to travel to the Westwater Ranger Station on Sunday. We met up with my fellow reporter Charlie Agar and his buddy Zeke. We brought them along because they are kayakers, and it’s always helpful to have safety boaters when traveling through gnarly rapids. Plus, they’re nice guys.Me and my friend Alison paddled in her Shredder, a raft with two inflated pontoons joined together with a fabric floor. By the time we got through the first five rapids in Westwater, we were on a roll. We mastered the sixth rapid, Skull, a tight maneuver that, as Agar wrote in Wednesday’s paper, can have serious consequences. All the boys on rafts had trouble in Sock-It-To-Me, a massive wave train that can slam and pin you against a rock wall. Kevin lost his oar, our buddy Reese went to retrieve it and nearly flipped his 16-foot cata-raft with our 1,000 pounds of gear. After we girls mastered Sock It, we eddied out and watched in horror the events unfolding. Luckily, Reese made it out by the grace of God. The boys gave us a good show. Girls ruled Westwater that day.