Jul 132010
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

The sun’s ablaze and the rapids are running wild: This is summer afloat the Cache la Poudre river.

For adventure-lovers who enjoy hopping on a rubber tube and hitting the water for a lazy afternoon, floating through town is the way to go.

But for Rob Breckenridge, CSU alumnus and owner of A1 Whitewater, the element of danger in taking on rapids is what keeps him rafting. Breckenridge fell in love with the Poudre River on a CSU rafting trip in 1974.

“Some of the best rafting in the nation is right here on the Poudre River,” he said, adding that his company shows some 8,000 people the “out-of-this-world” scenery between May 15 and Labor Day every year.

Breckenridge and his team host both morning and afternoon trips, including one specifically for those who want to bring their kids along. The intense trip, which he said is naturally more fun, hits Class III and IV, or intermediate and advanced rapids.

In the 29 years he’s owned A1 Whitewater, Breckenridge said the crew has only canceled a handful of trips as a result of weather. “We go rain or shine.”

Sgt. Kevin Johnston of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Emergency Service Section said that though getting down to the river is a Fort Collins summer staple, water-lovers need to take caution.
In 2009, his department was called to the river 14 times and this summer his crew has received five calls. Not all situations involved human danger, Johnston said.

The river flooded earlier this summer and that, Johnston said, increases the amount of debris is floating in the water. To avoid collision with debris and rocks or ending up in the stronghold of a dam, he recommended scouting the path you plan to tube or raft.

Another problem his team encounters is that citizens hitting the Poudre for river activities often forget the importance of a life jacket or personal floatation device.

“People enjoy the river. But again, if you look at the statistics, most people who drown are not wearing life jackets,” he said. “We tell people to look at the flow, some people are jumping in when it’s way too fast, way too high.”

Another tuber tip Johnston provided was investing in a multi-chambered river-cruiser instead of the single-chambered rubber numbers –– available at Walgreens ­­–– that one can spot flooding the river on any given weekend.

The Poudre thrashes down the canyon and lazes through town, offering an escape from the relentless Colorado sun. But whether you’re feeling risky and ready to show the rapids who’s boss or lazy and in need of a quiet float, the river is full of Mother Nature’s tricks and surprises and following basic safety precautions can prevent sticky situations.

Assistant News Editor Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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