Outdoor Adventures on The Colorado River
June 14, 2010
Last week I rafted the Upper Colorado River with my friend, Joe Kelso, owner of Colorado River Runs, and his clients who were visiting Grand County from Central New Jersey. It was a great opportunity to see the river through a visitor’s perspective. Driving on the Trough Road to Radium, I felt like I was in a completely different world. I don’t get out to that part of the county much so the drive through the ranch lands and rugged canyons kept me in awe through every turn; I even saw a pronghorn next to the road, such an unusual looking animal.
When I arrived in Radium, Joe and Petra Masnicova welcomed me to the headquarters: a 90 year old ranch house and original one room school house with dogs chasing Frisbees and donkeys in a barnyard, all just 100 yards from the Colorado River.
Petra is from the Czech Republic but has lived in Colorado for ten years. She loves working in Radium for Colorado River Runs and feels like she is living the true western experience as she learns to be a raft guide. Mark and Kathi Szabo, and their children Hana and Patrick Tello, are in town for a week. They certainly know how to vacation well: “We decided that if we go out to Colorado, we are going to do it all.”
And they did: horseback riding at Sombrero Stables in Grand Lake, a drive to Estes Park along Trail Ridge Road, and now, a few hours rafting the Colorado.
The river through lower Gore canyon was calm at first and then we ran into a few fun rapids. I got to be front-middle, no paddle, while everyone else had to paddle. Joe would yell “forward paddle” and I just sat there enjoying the water rushing over the boat splashing in my face. The river is high, and despite mellow sections in the river, there were five or six rapids where we all got wet, except Hana, who somehow managed to stay dry in the back of the raft.
I enjoyed the excitement of the rapids and the serenity of floating slowly to watch the scenery. We watched Canada Geese and their goslings swim and red-tailed hawks soar above the sage covered hills. For me, the best part of the trip was seeing two bald eagles perched atop trees in a regal pose. It was the first time I had ever seen an eagle in the wild. It’s quite a sight to see.
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The trip ended at Radium and we hung out on the patio and played Frisbee with the dogs and watched the hummingbirds. Mark is a birder back in New Jersey and we compared the different types of birds while Kathi took photos. Joe talked about life in Radium. He started the company in 1973, when there was little competition. Now, he is one of few rafting company owners who still guide his guests down the river.
Petra says, “It’s a laid back life out here in Radium. Colorado River Runs attracts the same type of visitors, those who aren’t in a rush and just want to slow down and have a fun, family activity.”
This trip reminded me of the western experience that drew me to Colorado years ago. Sometimes we need an outdoor adventure like this one, a drive to a different part of the county, in order to remember why we live here.