Ear to the ground

“Durango is Spanish for ‘water town,’ and it got that name because of that river over there.”

-A tourist providing narration while camcordering a sequence of Main Avenue

Animas in the spotlight

On the eve of Animas River Days, Durango’s whitewater got some pretty lofty ink. The June 13 issue ofUSA Todayspotlighted the Animas in a story on big run-off throughout the West.

The story waxes nostalgic at the get-go, misstates Durango’s mineral past and then gets wet. “During the late 19th century, this railroad town on the banks of the Animas River made its fortunes from coal,” the paper states. “Today’s moneymakers are tourists such as the LaVergnes of suburban Phoenix, who are settling into a rubber raft for a two-hour jaunt down the Animas, one of the last free-flowing rivers in the West.”

Noting the combination of high snowfall and a cool spring, the author explains that the Animas is in for a long and steady summer of flow. The LaVergnes then get suited up and hop on the town run.  

“On the family’s Mountain Waters trip early this month, rented wetsuits and splash jackets come in handy: The 38-degree water, the color of chocolate milk, roils with snowmelt from the nearby San Juan Mountains,” the story continues.

USA Today goes on to pay visits to Cataract Canyon, Idaho’s Middle, Main and Lower forks of the Salmon and other noteworthy stretches of the white stuff, remarking that the entire West has enjoyed a big water year. The paper also notes that gas prices have kept many rubber riders at home and hit some rafting outfitters hard. But the Vergnes don’t seem to mind, even though they take out before Smelter.

The paper concludes, “Lofty pump prices haven’t kept the LaVergnes from getting their feet — and most everything else — wet on their rollicking ride down the Animas. Though high water conditions precluded a run through the town’s biggest draw, Smelter Rapids, the shivering, first-time rafters didn’t miss it. Nine-year-old Kyle’s thumbs-up verdict: ‘This is way better than a video game.’”

Adventure dating

On the Arkansas River, outfitters are taking a novel approach to beating high gas prices. One company is currently promoting “River Runners Adventure Dating.”

The promotional materials read, “Imagine sitting next to your date at a movie, eager to hold hands, but uncomfortable enough not to make the first move. Now, imagine you and your date, letting your guards down, smiling and laughing while paddling through rapids in a cool mountain setting. Sounds like a refreshing way to meet someone.”

The company adds that adrenaline sports have been proven to strengthen the bond between mates and often offer “a new perspective on someone you thought perhaps incompatible at first.”

Lovebirds can take in a full day of guided rafting, complete with catered riverside lunch. The tour also offers time to “mix with others, learning about what aspects of the rafting adventure has gotten them energized.”



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows