Grand County whitewater guide makes 1,800 runs
September 24, 2013
When river guide "Mouse" told Madison Robuck he was going to run a "triple-decker" – three rafts stacked together – she wasn't sure it would work until he started rigging.
"He just kept telling me to trust him," Robuck said, a fellow employee at Kremmling-based Adventures in Whitewater. "Tell Mouse he's not going to do something, and he'll do it."
Robuck joined Mouse on the rig as he ran it down the Colorado River on Thursday, Aug. 15, marking the 1,800th run of his career. He's worked as a river guide for 23 years and joined Adventures in Whitewater when it opened for business in 2005.
"I just did it because I can," Mouse said. "I wanted to make the 1,800th a special run, something everyone would remember. I feel blessed I could put in as many runs as I have, I look forward to it every day."
“I just did it because I can,” Mouse said. “I wanted to make the 1,800th a special run, something everyone would remember. I feel blessed I could put in as many runs as I have, I look forward to it every day.”
Mouse grew up in Golden. He received his nickname when he was 8-years-old, after he dove into a small hole to avoid trouble with the principal after a prank at school. He came to Grand County to ski, but found his true calling after a float down the Colorado River.
"I think the thing I enjoy the most about rafting is reading water," he said. "You only know that if you're a raft guide – how to read the river and judge where you need to be. Now it's almost automatic for me."
While the water levels fluctuate and flows vary, Mouse said he's noticed other changes on the Colorado during his career. His greatest concern is boaters who lack respect for the river. He has seen many private boaters floating with improper equipment, like kiddie pools and inflatable chairs, and without taking personal safety measures, like wearing lifejackets.
"This is serious, it's not Disneyland," he said. "Safety is my most important issue. You might look at me in my triple decker, you wouldn't think that's very safe. But it is very safe, otherwise I wouldn't do it."
Mouse has substantial experience with safety and rescue. As a highlight of his rafting career, he notes the time during the 1996 season when a van full of 18 people lost control and drove off the highway into Clear Creek. Mouse was able to help rescue the passengers, getting them all out of the river unharmed.
"As a guide, you're going to encounter situations when you need to stay calm, be proactive and rescue people," he said.
In his years spent guiding, Mouse said the variety remains his favorite thing about guiding on the Upper Colorado, from the people he meets each day, to the diverse wildlife, to the water's subtle flux.
"It's so scenic and stress-free, it's a beautiful place to be," he said. "My ultimate goal is 2,000 runs. I normally average about 65 to 70 a year, so it's only about four years away, God willing."