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Reuniting river people

Tom Boyd

Gore Creek is meek, the Eagle is feeble, but the Colorado River is still going strong.Which is good news for the big party up at Gore Canyon Aug. 17-19.The annual race is sure to kick some life back into the otherwise dismal year for big-water boaters. For out-of-town visitors or first-time rafters, this year has been fine. Lower water levels are, generally, more popular among tourists, and those levels simply came a month early this year.But, for most of Colorado’s kayakers and rafters, there have been only two options this year: leave the state in search of better water, or, find something else to do.Since most of us have legitimate titles in the professional world, the first option can’t happen.So this year, quietly, while no one was looking, kayakers and rafters took off the neoprene and tried on the garb of other mountain sports. Mountain biking, motor biking, trail running, hiking, and climbing have all seen a slight increase this year as the valley’s river people try out something new, something different, something that will get them outside so long as it doesn’t require water.It’s been a bummer, and in more than one way.Not only do we miss the lovely sport/religion of being on the water, but we’re missing each other as well.There’s a community of friends, from Fort Collins to Durango to Golden to Montana and all over the mountains, that I only see on the river. These are people I meet at campsites, in eddies, and in small, riverside bars. We’re all on the road most of the time, in search of good water. And no matter what walk of life we may come from, we’re all river people at heart, so we get along famously and we never run out of things to talk about.Well, drought has put a stop to all that, for the most part.Which is why I think it’s such a good year to go out of your way to get to Gore Canyon Festival. This will be the one time to catch up with all those people you only see on the river. These are the people you wouldn’t recognize without their helmet on. The people who you talk to on mountainbuzz.com all the time, but you have no idea what they look like. That guy you sold your boat to last year. The guy whose head you stitched up with Superglue after a day at Rigor Mortis (and he’s never been the same since).And, while you’re catching up over a few beers and listening to live music, you can watch all the carnage on Teva’s Jumbotron television.Cheers, see ya there.Tom Boyd is a freelance writer living in Vail. His work appears regularly in the Vail Trail and the Rocky Mountain News. Contact him at hotfootboyd@hotmail.com or (970) 390-1585.


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