Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River

DB, nervously prepared for her first (and probably only) white water trip

In late June 2008, DB and I decided to go white water rafting in Buena Vista, Colorado. I'd been once before a few years earlier, enjoying a mellow class II-III guided run down the Animas River near Durango, Colorado. This time, we decided to sign up for a somewhat more adventurous guided run down the class III-IV Browns Canyon portion of the Arkansas River. We made reservations with Buffalo Joe's, a local outfitter whose gift shop sold t-shirts, hats and stickers that quipped "I Love BJ's". DB was excited about her first white water trip, as BJ's pamphlets said the route was ideal for "families and non-swimmers".

Long story short, DB and I (as well as seven others, including our self-proclaimed "rookie" guide) nearly died on the river when the raft flipped in what I felt to be a class V section of extremely volatile, swift water (winter 2008 in Colorado had been much heavier than in recent years) and several of us were pinned under the raft in the torrent until we were able to get ourselves free and exhaustedly either swim to shore or be rescued by nearby rafters (and safety kayakers).

DB and I learned later that day that five (read: FIVE) people had drowned on the same river in the same week. Tell me why outfitters were running trips then?!?! Greed.