Friday, June 02, 2006

How do you know when it's a big water year? Count the bodies

Adam Barron on St. Vrain River
Much of Colorado had a formidable snowpack this year which made for awesome whitewater in the spring. Many creeks that don't run very often were full and attracted the state's most ferverent whitewater kayakers.
As might be expected, these creeks have "holes" that grab boats and hold them, and this weekend, two kayakers died.

One of them, Adam Barron, who disappeared in Vallecito Creek near Durango on Saturday and still hasn't been found, was a friend of mine in college. He was a gifted ski racer and road biker, and one of the kindest men I've ever met -- always up for a new adventure, and never complaining when things didn't turn out so well.
I got a call saying he was dead on Sunday from another friend in Boulder. Ironically, I had just finished a big whitewater trip myself, through The Gates of Lodore on the Green River. It put me in a good position to think about what had happened to Adam.
The things that made him such a likeable guy -- his taste for adventure, his skill, his good humor -- were ultimately the things that put him in the situation where he died. It's a great paradox of people chasing faster and faster after the ultimate outdoor thrill: There is an imperceptible line between cheating death and meeting it. We're never looking for it, and yet some people find it, on a sunny, perfect afternoon when they're not expecting it.
In no way can we condemn guys like Adam for living the way they do. I think it's inspiring. But when one dies, we have to pause, consider the costs, and decide what charges the stiffer price, going after the things we love, or stopping, and letting them slip beyond our reach.

1 comment:

outdoorspro said...

Yep, gonna be a great river season all over the West.

I just finished my Whitewater Rescue training today and have a summary with photos up at my outdoors blog. For those who want to learn more about how to help boaters in trouble, this course is a must!