As we enter March, the ICO Rafting training season commences. ICO trains new raft guides every year, keeping our volunteer roster filled with qualified whitewater guides. Most years the training season kicks off with a "tune up" trip where current guides (and even a few trainees from this year's class) put together a trip who's entire purpose is to shake off the rust from the off season. Well, not the entire purpose -- because we also try to have a little fun also! Ryan organized this year's trip.
Our level of fun depends on fickle weather this time of year. Saturday March 5 trip was sunny and pleasant. That night it rained, and several people admitted laying in their sleeping bags wondering whether they really wanted to go rafting the next day in the rain. (On a serious note, we always take to time to make sure no one feels coerced into going on a river trip out of peer pressure.) By the time we put in on Sunday, the rain had cleared -- cloudy but not raining. The weather was good for the weekend overall.
We ran the Chili Bar run of the South Fork American both days. Normally on 2-day weekend trips (training trips or participant trips) we try to run each of the two sections of the river. However, this year the takeouts on the Gorge run have been closed so we were forced to run Chili Bar both days.
The water was fast but not scary nor outside the capability of anyone on the trip. The flow was in the 3800 cfs range both days. It was a challenging early season trip. It was also a very successful trip -- everyone felt charged up and ready for the rest of the season to get going! And it was great to hang out with this group of friends as well!