Yesterday, we rafted the Shoshone section of the Colorado River with Lakota Guides. Our raft was filled with two other travel journalists and a PR “Story Teller”, Nicole, from the agency that represents Beaver Creek Lodge. We all had a blast and although it wasn’t the most intense whitewater rafting experience, it was the most fun.
Nicole’s eager willingness to try anything thrown her way on the Colorado River made my adventure that much more enjoyable. She “rode the bull”, laughed when she went for an unplanned swim, stood up at the front of the raft as we spun it around and tried to knock her into the water, and continuously smiled throughout the day. If there was a “Most Sportsmen Like Award” for first time rafters, Nicole would be the winner. Thanks, Nicole! You are a pleasure to be around.
The Shoshone section of the Colorado River begins with Class III rapids that ease after a few miles. As the cool water rushed into the boat and we bounced around like bunnies, Nicole’s face lit up. At one point, all four of us almost fell into the rapid. Nicole grabbed the girl across from her and pulled her back into the raft just before she went in. (Arguably, it was Nicole’s fault in the first place since she was the one that fell on her, but they are just semantics in the story.) Nicole reached for her jacket, grabbed a hold of it, and pulled. We all laughed because we managed to stay safely in the raft yet we had a little more adventure than expected.
Following the Class III rapid section, Class II rapids were interspersed throughout the rest of the adventure and the beautiful Glenwood Canyon towered above with canyon walls up to 1,500 ft. This part of the trip was more leisurely so Towensend, our rafting guide, asked if someone wanted to “ride the bull”. Before he even told us what it was, Nicole agreed. Her eagerness might have been her downfall at this point, but again she is the heroine so we’ll blame Townsend, our more-than-friendly guide who would most likely be a great friend if we lived int he same state. He explained that riding the bull means to sit at the front of the raft, hold on to the yellow rope, and fling your legs over the edge as we quickly raft through Class II rapids, offering an up close and personal view of the water. Nicole jumped up and mounted the “bull” only to fall into the rapid as quickly as she got up. Townsend darted across the raft before I even know what had happened and he pulled her back in. To our surprise, she had a huge smile on her face. She wondered what she had done wrong and Townsend explained that he was going to tell her to lean back to fall into the raft if she was going to fall anywhere, but she had jumped on so quickly, he didn’t have a chance to tell her. Rather than being upset about it or stressed, she tried riding again with success. She was fearless.
Swimming opportunities were abound as the warm Colorado air made the cool Colorado River very inviting. Rather than just jumping in, we (actually just Nicole) played a game. Nicole stood up on the very edge of the front of the raft while holding her paddle for balance. We spun the raft 360° twice before she finally lost her balance and fell in. It was like watching a movie in slow motion.
First, she completely had her balance. I didn’t think we’d knock her in. Then, as we all paddled in unison, the shifting of the raft was more prominent. Her arm slowly moved up above her head and her other hand shifted on the paddle. She was going in.
Even just before she hit the water, she was still smiling.
We called her our guinea pig. She happily tested every adventure first and the sheer enjoyment on her face reminded me of how blessed I am to participate in adventures like this. She made everyone happier just by being in her presence and for that she deserves recognition.
Some people just have that air about them. Their happiness is contagious and spreads like wildfire. I often wonder how people view my personality. Do they see me as generally happy? Do they understand how much I appreciate every opportunity I am blessed with? I hope that I bring that sense of joyful spirit to others.