Friday, July 29, 2016

Drifting Down the River

Tubing on the Yampa River here in Steamboat Springs is a popular activity. Kids, teens, even moms with toddlers can all be found floating down the river by the dozens in big inner tubes. But we decided to take a float trip down the Colorado River. The Bucking Rainbow Outfitters drove us to the Colorado (about an hour away), handled the big rafts, and did all the paddling. All we had to do was not fall out and enjoy our lunch! We told the young bearded river guides about our experiences on the Upper and Lower Gauley River in West Virginia, and they were impressed. But at this stage in our lives, we are allowed to relax a bit, we decided.
Although we didn't expect any big rapids, nothing bigger than class 2, the rule on the river is
"Never take anything you can't stand to lose." Well, I couldn't go on the Colorado River without my camera, could I? I got a big plastic bag to put around it when there was a chance of splashing, and off we went. The rock formations are fascinating, and I couldn't resist taking photos of the rocks as we passed.
The birding started well. Before we even got the rafts into the water, a juvenile Bald Eagle flew overhead. Through the rest of the trip, we saw a pair of adults in a tree, and one bird that must have been about four years old with a muddy white head. A nest appeared to be empty, with no adult eagles nearby.
Swallows have been the most common bird we've seen every day on this trip. Barn Swallows, Cliff Swallows, Violet-green Swallows, and maybe some Tree or Rough-winged Swallows - it's hard to tell when they swerve away so fast. A huge colony of Cliff Swallows had built their jug shaped nests of mud under a bridge. Still no American Dippers, although I scanned each rock - they should have been there. :(
Two beavers swam across the river in front of us. The first slapped his tail and dove under when we got too close to suit him.
The water came out of the bottom of a reservoir upstream and was very cold. Only two brave people got fully immersed until we stopped for lunch at a sand bar. By then, everyone was pretty hot and the water felt pretty good. Tomorrow, we are getting up early to ride in a hot air balloon! Then in the evening we are going to the rodeo!

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