This would not be my first time messing about in the river, but it was my first time spending more than one day on the whitewater. Taking off from Breckenridge, Co and heading south to Buena Vista, I met up with 14 wild women around the state that wanted some time in the outdoors together.

Only a few of these women had any swift water experience, but the rapids were calling out to us all. With the record snowfall from the winter season, the water was high, and very fast. Women of Colorado teamed up with Canyon River Instruction, a female-run, educational rafting company, for this thrilling excursion.

Doralene Deokielal went from sea captain to river master

We arrived, introduced, packed and briefly went over safety aspects. The all-female crew explains that most instructions for what to do are revealed right before you encounter that obstacle. Then, it’s fresh in your mind! As we were loading the boats, that were all named after female pirates, the clouds rolled in and the thunder began.

Finding it safer the deeper into the canyon you go, we set out and paddled hard through the piercing rain. All together now, so the boats don’t look like a giant, drunk octopus, and we are swept down the white water. With each rapid splashing over the boat, I was chilled to the point of losing breath. What a way to start the adventure. But they best ones usually aren’t perfect!

We arrived at our camp pull out swiftly and ready to get the fire started. As soon as our boats were brought ashore the rain ceased and with a quick change of clothes everyone was ready to explore.

‘The Goover’ – As part of LNT guidelines, you cannot poop by the riverside and just bury it, you need this metal trap!
Once camp was set and dinner over the fire, music took over the landscape

Our instructor went over Leave No Trace guidelines, particularly for our riverside landscape as the other two guides started dinner over the fire. Tents were scattered over the sand and the ladies all relaxed listening to the  sounds of a fiddle. We shared stories of ourselves and other outdoor experiences and where our favorite places in nature are. For some, being on the water is the most natural, but others found their peace at the tops of mountains or chest deep skiing powder.

The clouds that were still lingering from the rain storm earlier created the perfect canvas for an explosive sunset. Everyone gathered on the hillside for the best view and couldn’t tear our eyes away until the sun was down.

Anne Bonny, Charlotte Badger & Grace O’Malley were notorious female pirates. Proper name for these boats!
Explosive sunset over the campsite P: Anne Rusk
The fire circle P: Anne Rusk

Once the sun had rested, all the women were feeling drowsy from paddling hard through the cold conditions. We followed suit finishing up our FatTire beers and Breckenridge Distillery cocktails and zipping up our sleeping bags and tents.

The sun was up and blazing early the following day. The weather had taken a turn for the better and every single woman was cheering to get back on the water. Once the gear boat was packed up, (14 women carry a lot of gear), the crew was off for a beautiful and exciting day two. This is where we would meet the bigger rapids.

Team Huddle P: Anne Rusk

The raging river somehow became faster and all dips and waves were significantly bigger. We set in with confidence and strength through each new rapid, listening for our guides booming voice ‘LEFT TWO, BACK TWO!’ We were taking rapids sideways and getting so pitted, that I found myself completely submerged while still remaining in the boat more than once.

With each difficult twist and turn we would have a moment to collect ourselves and celebrate. We even played tricks on other boats (one girl had a fake front tooth and we pretended it got knocked out by a paddle during the final rapid). The second day we all felt more comfortable and stronger than the first and never wanted to leave the water. Of course it was moving so hastily that we found ourselves at the end of the trip. It was the only time of the entire weekend that I was let down. We have to get out of the boats, out of the river and say goodbye to all these badass women we just met. It was bittersweet, but I know I will dive back into the white water again, soon.

Hyped for the sunshine on day 2 P: Anne Rusk

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