Saturday, August 14
Friday August 13th was my second day hiking from Monarch Pass when some amazing trail magic happened. I was walking along the Rainbow Trail, it was close to dark and I was actively looking for a place to camp. I planed on going into Salida Colorado the next day to reminisce about my time here in 2004 when I hiked the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Often the universe has other plans for me, and the universe was listening as it always does. Three years ago when I started planning the Four Corners Loop hike I imagined the possibility of rafting in Salida Colorado. I planed on spending a couple nights in Salida and would go rafting with one of the numerous rafting companies in town. Yesterday as I hiked along the rainbow trail I was thinking about this thought and I was squashing it because I said to myself “I don’t have time”. I’m feeling a little bit of pressure to finish on time even though I know I am on pace to finish.
As I was hiking down the Rainbow Trail I encountered to coon dogs followed by their mountain biking owner. He asked what I was doing and I quickly explained the giant 2,500 mile loop I was hiking. Amazed, Tres dismounted from his bike sat down and wanted to hear more. I was surprised because it was getting close to dark and I was wondering how this mountain biker would descend the hill.
Tres then asked me if I would you like to go river rafting in the morning. I sensed some hesitation within myself because I just spent seven days at home in Denver Colorado at my mothers funeral. I also had a sense come over me that said “Kevin you’re on vacation”, these are the type of experiences that make great stories and make people smile. I also thought of my friends Tim and Cassie from Montana who picked me up hitchhiking when I was on the CDT. Because I said yes to them they are great friends to this day because I chose the word “yes”. With all of these thoughts going on my head I once again chose the word “yes”. As I sit my hotel writing this I do not regret my choice and no I will never regret saying yes to rafting today and experiencing life in the now.
This is why the universe listens I always imagined rafting in Salida Colorado while hiking the Four Corners Loop and rafting showed up in the form of beautiful trail magic. Tres give me directions how to hike to his house, I quickly got there under the cover of darkness. I met his brother Matty and there three dogs, two beautifully colored coon dogs and one lovey pug. We socialize some, but I was quite tired after hiking over 21 miles on Friday. The hike on Friday descended me down the 13,971 foot Mount Ouray then up and down along the Rainbow Trail.
The adventure began on Saturday around 10 in the morning. We loaded up the truck with two rafts, oars, helmets, life jackets and other accessories we would need for the day. We drove downstream of Salida and put in on the Arkansas River in a section of the river called Bighorn. Yes we did see big horn sheep along this section. They were amazing animals and they were easy to spot because the coon dogs on our boats we’re very good at spotting the animals and looking in their direction.
The river was flowing about 820 ft.³ per second and it was full of many class three rapids. I thought the rapids would be quite scary because being in a boat and what they termed an “R2”, meaning there’s just two people per boat left each person a good opportunity to work as a team with the other in unison as the team guided the boat back-and-forth amongst the rocks, and a few barely poking their water polished surface above the churning water, lurking to deflect the boat and cause havoc within the water stream.
Another thing I appreciated about today was I was hanging out with three people who were relaxed and took the time to enjoy everything that passed their eyes. The day gave me the opportunity to slow down and always go at my one pace which is usually “just go, go, go”. I loved how on the drive down at some random spot the car stopped so they can get out to take pictures of beautiful sunflowers. I think I would’ve just drove past these flowers but yet they took time to stop and relish in their beauty of their backyard. Most of the day I felt like I was rafting with three people who had the spirit of “Double Rainbow Man”. Everything they looked at they were in awe, and they appreciated all of natures beauty as it passed behind us with our boats progressing down stream.
Thank you Tres, Matty, and Billy for some very memorable trail magic today.