Trip duration: 6/12/15 to 6/15/2015
Route: Dallas Love Field => Denver (roundtrip)
Flying Method: Points via Southwest Airlines
- Wanna Get Away points of 11,350. Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards. Points earned via the Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-on bonus of 40,000.
Being in the outdoors has always been one of my favorite things (weather permit). I was so excited when a friend organized a group trip to Colorado for some whitewater rafting and hiking fun.
Since I practically ran out of vacation days for the year, I had to do the cray crazy flight to Denver after work Friday and return to Dallas before the crack of dawn the following Monday. Once arrived in Denver, it took 2 1/2 hour drive to our cabin in Buena Vista. The drive was a bit unsettling as it was in the middle of the night and the roads were hilly and they curved on and off. Every so often we’d see signage to beware of animals crossing (bucks, deer, etc). After a detour that seemed like forever, we finally arrived! Woohooooo. Half of the group was already at the cabin and asleep when my friend and I showed up; the other group arrived an hour or so after us.
In the morning, we had a mini reunion in the kitchen with all 11 of us. It was so good seeing everyone as some of us don’t live in the same city. 🙂 After some yumilicious home cooked breakfast, we made our way to the rafting place (Wilderness Aware) where we got suited with wet suit, booties, gloves, splash jacket, life vest and a helmet. Since the water level was really high (which guarantees for some water splashing) and cold, we decided to go full gear instead of our initial plan of workout pants and long sleeve dryfit shirt. We did the full day Browns Canyon rafting along the Arkansas river. There were 20 plus people in the entire group and we were split up into 4 rafts. With our group of 11, 7 of us were in one raft while 4 others were in the other. Before we got transported to the drop off point, the master guide briefed us on safety and things to do/not to do. I’m glad some of us paid attention because a few of us had to put those instructions to use later on.
Our guide Mel was really knowledgeable and taught us padding techniques and commands. The sun was out (for the most part), the sky was clear, we were in good company, the day was a winner so far. Each time we went through a rapid, we’d go through a rush of excitement as Mel yelled out commands and told us to dig in; relief would set in as we passed the rapid without anyone falling in the water, and then we’d laugh. lol. The numbers were probably the most fun as there were 7 rapids back to back. We paddled for about 2 hours and the entire group pulled over to shore for lunch. Since there was no porter potty or restroom in sight, the guides told us to go in the river if we had to relieve ourselves…hahaha. Seriously like anyone would be the odd ball in the water, people obviously would know what is up (awkward)! My friend and I stared longingly at the river, shook our heads and went into the woods instead. After lunch we got back into our rafts and continued on the journey. After some paddling we pulled up to shore again. The guides told us we were going to look at this ginormous rapid which developed recently due to the super high water level (earlier in the morning they had also released some water from the dam). The rapid looked super scary!!!!!!!! We watched some raft go through and saw our 1st case of a swimmer (when someone falls out of the raft that person is referred to as a swimmer). It was pretty hilarious when we all yelled OHHHHH SWIMMER at the same time. The next 3 rafts went through the rapid beautifully, but it really didn’t help us much since we were still pretty freaked out.
We got back to the raft and were all really tense in anticipation of the ginormous rapid. As we went through it, Mel yelled her heart out and we paddled for our lives. After we passed the rapid, we were all really relieved and were starting to cheer when Mel started yelling for us to back paddle (confused). The second we looked back we understood why. Our friends’ raft who was behind us capsized and every one of them was in the water. To make things worse, we were coming up to another rapid with pretty strong current. So half of us back paddled like mad, while the other half was busy pulling people into our raft. We ended up with 5 additional people in our raft going through the second rapid. yikes. We couldn’t find one of our friends for a while; it turned out, he followed all instructions from the master guide (from the safety talk) and swam to the right side of the shore. lol. The girls who fell in the water were pretty shaken up and rightfully so, fortunately no one was hurt (hmmm except for a busted lip). Later someone said the guide from the capsized raft jump on top of the raft and was doing whack a mole to pop the people who was underneath the raft out (i thought it was really funny when they said that during safety. It’s not so funny when it was really happening). My gawwwd. Anyway, that was enough excitement for the day. Right before we arrived to our final destination, we had to pull up to shore, got out and CARRIED the raft around a bridge which was too close to the river and we couldn’t go underneath it. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. That alone was my workout for the entire day. Everyone was so exhausted at the end of the day, we were so glad to be back in the cabin and rest. Our home chefs fed us DELICIOUS dinner with grilled steaks, cabbage soup, asparagus and mashed potatoes. Having friends who could cook was such a blessing. =P I was so tired that night that I was literally in bed by 9pm.
The next morning we headed out to the Ptarmigan Lake Trail for some hiking fun. The scenery was absolutely stunning, with tree lines and snowcaps in view. The hike itself wasn’t too bad except for the half melted / unmelted snow. We didn’t expect that and none of us had snow shoes on. For a good portion of the hike we were slipping and sliding. With a higher elevation on the trail, we stopped a couple of times along the way to catch our breath. We didn’t see a lot of people on the trail (guess we were the only ones not getting the snow memo). We ran into a lady who passed us by earlier and was on her way back. She told us the snow was literally 5 feet deep and you couldn’t see the trail as it was all covered up. She saw the 1st lake however it was covered in snow. Bummer. We happily decided to turn around after about 2 miles of hiking. hahaha!!! We found a dry spot and took a lunch break before heading back to the trail head. While most hung out in the cabin after we got back, a friend and I decided to put the bikes at the cabin to use and ventured out to the nearby field. Yay for biking, nay for riding a crappy bike with broken gears. 🙁 It didn’t help that I had a patch of bruises on my behind for falling onto a broken tree during the hike.
All good times must come to an end. 🙁 This weekend was wayyyyyy too short. There are so many fun things to do in Colorado (ahem) and I cannot wait to go back and check them off the list.
Note: My friends told us about an easy way to divid up expenses for groups: www.kittysplit.com. You can add expenses you incur and choose who to split it with. The site does all the calculation for ya. We also did it the old fashion way using an excel spreadsheet. Between a pharmacist and a CPA, it took a while (few hours) for us to sort through and our numbers did match the website’s…hahaha…moral of the story – just stick with kittysplit. =P