Paddling the Inferno

By Erik Dahl

Raft guides are commonly faced with diverse situations: rescuing a swimmer, cleaning up after a flip or coordinating the evacuation of a customer. As a guide, you expect these situations to arise and are ready for them. The afternoon of June 10, 2013 brought a situation that had not been considered as a threat to rafting – a wildfire consuming a large portion of the Royal Gorge.

This is my third season as a raft guide at the River Runners office out of Cañon City. During my short time here I have experienced multiple high- stress situations, but nothing so catastrophic or uncontrollable as a raging wildfire. Fortunately, for some reason I decided to bring along my phone to capture the moment through its mediocre camera.

As the water continued to rise, so did our motivation to be on the river. Three friends from Colorado Springs made the short trip to Cañon City to do some private trips or “play boating” through the Gorge. We went on a play trip with other staff and friends after they arrived Monday evening, a routine trip that went without any surprises. Our trip the next afternoon was different.

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Images of words and pictures

By Hal Walter
If a picture can paint a thousands words, then I should keep this short. My columns are usually 800-1,000 words, and this one is accompanied by a few photos.

It may baffle and surprise some readers to learn that I often picture a written essay as an image. It forms in my head and then I attempt to project this image into words. Sometimes it’s easy to get those words out, and sometimes not so.

I started out in journalism because of an interest in photography. I joined my high school newspaper class and saved to buy a Minolta SRT 101 camera. My folks later bought me some darkroom equipment and we turned a small bathroom into a makeshift lab.

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