Drew Munro: Getting blown away
June 25, 2010
Last weekend a considerate fellow rafter offered to help me as I tried to assemble my cataraft at Pumphouse launch on the Upper Colorado River.
I’m afraid during that moment of self-absorbed frustration I may have merely mumbled something like “mummerflockingweeend!” and looked up at him like he was a marauding Hun. My apologies to the kind gentleman.
The challenge wasn’t the raft itself; it was the fact that whenever I tried to align one of the inflatable 14-foot tubes with the metal frame, the wind would yank the unwieldy contraption violently and twirl me around like a well-oiled turnstile.
The fun continued downstream as the drubbing gusts in Little Gore Canyon tried to impale us on the rocks and made it difficult to stay on course through the rambunctious wave trains.
At the Radium takeout, I saw the kind stranger again.
“That wind was something, uh?” I offered.
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He nodded and smiled.
“Great fun,” I said.
“I’d rather grind my teeth down,” he replied, grinning.
That about sums up what I’ve been hearing from most people about the wind this spring: grinding down our nerves. And knocking down our trees and covering all our possessions with particles of Utah.
These blustery days are beginning to remind me of when I lived in Cody, Wyo. There we joked about our 50/50 weather (50 degrees, 50 mph wind) like most people joke about death, attended by a tic in a facial muscle or a thin, nervous giggle.
One day driving down the highway outside Cody at about 55 mph on a howling Chinook spring afternoon, I glanced to my left when unexpected movement caught my eye and was stunned to realize I was being overtaken by an empty Budweiser box skidding along the shoulder on the opposite side of the road.
That’s just not right, I thought.
And neither is this: gorgeous summer days, no thunderstorms, not too many bugs, perfect temperatures but 30 mph-plus every afternoon. That doesn’t lend itself to a smooth backcast, to seasonal contentment or to keeping things in the garage when the door opens.
More like chewing on sand.
But this, too, shall pass – about when most of the high snow melts, if experience is any guide.
Here’s hoping it stops blowing before the countryside starts drying out too much.
Thrill of the spill
How wonderful is it to see Lake Granby basically filled for the second consecutive year? One needn’t be a trout to appreciate a full pond.
I’m looking forward to seeing Granby Dam spill, if for no reason other than the atavistic thrill of witnessing so much kinetic energy.
Naturally, there are many other reasons, most of them better.
For one, the lake is more aesthetically pleasing without the “bathtub ring” that forms at lower water levels.
Biologists tell us the Colorado River between the lake and where it joins the Fraser River needs a flushing flow to remain healthy.
Plus, it’s a shame to see a perfectly good dam spillway go to waste, and it’s kind of fun to write “perfectly good dam spillway.”
Oh, and yes, there’s the niggling matter of all that water being available for things like agriculture, Front Range bluegrass lawns and fundraising car washes.
Besides, with the way the wind’s been blowing, rafters are going to need that water in the river if they ever hope to see their shuttle vehicles again.
– Drew can be reached at (970) 887-3334 ext. 19600 or at email@example.com