Written by Travis Anderson
“Awaiting to meet our travel guide, we waited outside on the benches with the other rafters who were booked on the same trip. Looking over at the other two in our group I decided to get to do a little investigating for myself. “Where are you guys from? Is this your first time visiting Colorado? Is this your first time rafting”? I wanted to first get down to the bottom of who else was going on this trip and what type of thrill seeker they were. In hopes that their skills and experiences were like mine, I could figure out what I got myself into.
“We’re from Chicago and this is our first time visiting and our first time going rafting”. Surprised to hear that they were only hours away from my hometown (St. Louis) and we were both going whitewater rafting for the first time, I was overjoyed! As our conversation continued minutes longer, we found more similarities between us. After some friendly banter, our instructors approached us to introduce themselves.
We were lucky enough to have Kurt and Shaun as our raft guides. They were incredibly thorough with safety instructions and made sure we were aware of what to do indifferent scenarios that may occur on water. We learned all safety precautions, then we were onto our next step: getting dressed.
After making sure we were properly suited and the gear size matched up correctly with us, we were loaded on the bus and driven down to the river. Within 10 – 15 short minutes we were down by the river and unloading ourselves along with our rafts. Before putting our rafts on the water, we practice our forward strokes and backstrokes on land just to ensure we knew how to preform proper strokes with our ores. After our guides were assured that we were 100% confident that we knew how to row and what to expect, we picked up our raft, placed it along the shore, jumped in, and we were ready to go.
Once we hit our first rapid I was smiling ear to ear. In absolute delight of being in the sunshine, I knew it was going to be a day to remember. As we continued down the river, the rapids started to progress from mild to a bit more wild. With the help from our guide, Shaun, we were able to stay afloat and cruise through the Class IV rapids of Upper Clear Creek. There was even a part where we used our raft to “surf” a rapid. We also enjoyed many different sceneries along the way such as a historical coal mine, lumber bridge, and water wheel.
During the end of our trip we were informed of the great barbecue joints near Idaho Springs and told about other adventures AVA has to offer. We were greeted by the AVA shuttle as we approached the take out and reminisced about a few great hours on the water on our short drive back to the outpost. At the end of our ride we gave back the wet suits, splash jackets, and the rest of the gear as well as thanked our guides with a tip. If you are looking for a rafting trip with people who know how to have a good time, you have got to go AVA.”