So this adventure was proposed to me by my Colorado tour guide about a week before we departed, and it went like this via text message –
- link to clearcreekrafting.com/trips
- Do you think that you’d want to do the half day advance or the full day advance?
In case you don’t click the link, I’ll tell you what I read. “Adventurous spirit, ability to swim and prior experience required”.
I texted back:
- You sure about advanced because I have none of the recommended prior experience?
I really wasn’t too concerned with anything except the temperature of the water, which was a good thing since a few days later this text came from Colorado Tour Guide Headquarters.
- Rafting booked. Non-refundable.
Well ok then.
The night before our rafting adventure I was starting to get nervous, still mostly about the temperature of the water. I asked him how upset he would be if I backed out.
- It’d probably be close to a deal breaker.
Really? Even if I covered my expense of it?
- Yes, I really like your adventurous spirit.
Well ok then.
I decided at that point the best thing to do was to not think about it at all until I was in the raft. Kind of like with a really hard workout. Just get it started and go from there.
The next morning we arrived at Clear Creek Rafting in Idaho Springs. Mario, an Argentinian forever chasing summer and rafting between Colorado and his home country, was our guide. We were given our wetsuits (included in the rafting price!), a helmet and our life jacket and our party of five rafters loaded on to a school bus. We spent about 15 minutes driving upstream to the start and Mario took advantage of this time to go over the safety tips for the trip. We also had Connor, a really young safety kayaker who promised to help guide us to safety as long as we didn’t try to pull him into the water with us.
The tips were fairly self-explanatory and simple:
- If you fall in, don’t stand up.
- Try to stay in the boat.
- Hold on to your paddle.
- Rescue your friends.
- If you do turn into a swimmer, don’t panic but head for shore.
Then we loaded the boat into the water and ourselves into the boat. Tour guide and I were placed in the front seats and only later would realize this was a blessing and a curse.
Our morning trip was a couple hours before we had a break for lunch. I didn’t realize how much paddling was involved from the rafters. I assumed the river would just take us wherever it wanted but Mario was shouting at us quite a bit “Right forward 2”, “2 more”, “Backwards 2”. Again, fairly self-explanatory commands that helped us avoid rocks and stay above rapids.
The rapids were a lot of fun and ranged from fast moving but level water to fast moving with big drops. Our biggest drop was 8 feet down! When Mario said that I looked across and mouthed “8 feet?!” It was an exhilarating part of the route. The raft thankfully did a great job of keeping us well afloat on the water. There were many times we went nose first into a rapid or backwards rolling wave but we never flipped. The shock of that first cold splash was horrible though.
Luckily, we never stayed under for too long. Just buoyed right back to the top. Except on one rapid where Mario had us reverse the boat around and use the current to “surf” into the waves. Except that the surfing totally submerged my tour guide. I tried to dive over to pull him out of the water when really I should’ve been reverse paddling to turn us out of the waterfall. Once the strategy of the command clicked in my head, I hopped on the action and helped bring him back into the air.
After a while the sun went behind the clouds and I was frozen. My fingers wouldn’t move, my lips were blue and my teeth were chattering. I was pretty miserable but trying to enjoy the scenery and soak up the little sun that was around. Finally we got to shore for our lunch break and I hopped in a hot shower and threw on some pants.
We had gourmet sandwiches and fruit waiting for us while we waited for the few boats that would be joining our afternoon trip. I sat in the car to incubate back to normal temperatures.
Luckily for the afternoon trip, Mario had a waterproof-sealed-at-the-seams jacket for me to wear. I was one happy camper for the rest of the trip.
We still got splashed but I couldn’t feel it! The afternoon trip was shorter but more action-packed than the morning, and the scenery was better. We went deeper into a canyon and away from the towns.
I overheard the guide of the boat in front of us ask
Y’all feeling any better? A little less hungover?
Oh man. Not the place I would want to be in that state! We had so much fun and I loved seeing the tour guide so happy. Before our trip he compared it to roller coastering and while I don’t quite agree with that, I did love our adventure!
I cannot recommend Clear Creek Rafting enough. Our wetsuits were included as well as the photos that you see in this post. There were plenty more to choose from too. And, when we looked at our CD for the first time and realized that the photos weren’t from our trip, we called Clear Creek and they were pretty promptly emailed right to us.
Was it scary? Not really. Adventurous? Absolutely. We never encountered a part of the creek that I would’ve felt I couldn’t swim away from. I certainly didn’t want to be a swimmer but I would definitely do it again on a creek. Probably not a river since Connor tipped us off to their tendency to flip the rafts on purpose for fun……..I’m just happy I didn’t deal break my relationship 😉