Vail, CO, Colorado
This past Sunday I was kayaking the Dowd Chute section of the Eagle River when I came upon a fellow paddler in a little bit of a bind.
He had swam, technically a “wet exit,” from his boat in Dowd Chute and was unable to reach the shore until a small island in the middle of the river downstream.
Long story short, we managed to get him to shore where it became apparent that he was close to hypothermic and in a mild state of shock. Having spent 15-20 minutes in 30 degree water getting bounced of rocks and through holes, this was not surprising.
As my car was farther downstream and he was without a boat (and in no state to paddle anyway) I instructed him to walk up the embankment (he was not from around here), and when he got to the road take a right, where I would come back along in my truck and get him warm and back to his buddy who was downstream chasing his boat or down to his takeout vehicle which was in Edwards. (Lesson 1: Never leave your buddy on the river.)
As I was getting into my truck to go and find him, a gentleman from High Mountain Taxi had (I thought) very nicely picked the guy up and had brought him the last 200 yards or so. Which leads to the reason I felt compelled to share this story, the driver refused to leave without his $5.50 payment for the 200 yard trip (as is his right).
After talking with the owner of the company, apparently the drivers have to start the meter and if they do not collect the fare, then it comes out of their pocket.
I would have thought that in a valley full of so many wonderful and caring individuals and companies that this would be a “special circumstance” and that even if the driver desperately needed this $5.50 for the 200 yards, which he may have, then the circumstances might have proved that he was justified in giving the fare up.
Let’s face it, if you know the area I am referring to, it wasn’t a “call” so to speak. He was on his way from Kayak Crossing back out on to Highway 6 and gave the guy a ride for 200 yards on the access road.
Seeing as this soaking wet, cold-going-blue individual dressed in kayak gear didn’t happen to have his wallet on him as the taxi driver assumed he would and refused to believe otherwise, we had to figure out how to get the $5.50 to the driver, preferably before the individual went into shock.
I mentioned that I would go home and get money and return as I didn’t have my wallet with me kayaking either, but the driver didn’t seem to believe me that I would return with the payment.
Fortunately for the distraught kayaker and the taxi driver who needed his $5.50, another complete stranger (also from out of town) overheard what was going on and gave the driver his much-needed fare.
This individual allowed us to get the taxi out of the equation so we could get the kayaker into a car and get him warm and move forward to try and find his buddy and boat down river.
This letter is to thank whoever that anonymous individual was for their kind heart in paying the fare. Thank you!
Paul St Ruth
Wildfires have become more numerous, bigger and more destructive in the past 40 years. That’s a big deal in a town surrounded by public land.