Micro-venture: Packrafting the Lake Fork

Successful peer-pressuring is a bit of an art, particularly after the teenage years have passed and/or liquid liberations are not involved. To even have a chance of success, your target must be chosen carefully, deliberately. You need the right person for the right activity at the right time with the right application of pressure.

So when both Keri and I were wanting a little weekend escape and a night under the stars, I formulated a plan while she snoozed off a night shift. The only hitch was the need for a third person. Calls were made and text messages sent. No luck, so I chose Travis to pester. Why him?

Right person: Travis is single and can leave at a moments notice. Plus, I'd talked to him a day earlier and he admitted to lacking weekend plans.

Right activity: Boating, bikes, skiing, camping, climbing, etc...He enjoys them all and my plan involved more than one of the above mentioned activities. Bonus points.

Right time: It was Saturday morning and Travis is off Saturday-Monday. And, as previously noted, he didn't have current weekend plans. He also hadn't been out to play and was suffering from O.D.D. (Outdoor Deficit Disorder)

When ordinary suddenly become less than
Right pressure: Now for the most crucial and delicate part, the pressuring. This is where you've really go to know the person you're trying to convince; some respond to aggressive belittling and name calling, while others need gentle coaxing and time to mull it over. Travis needs a touch of both. Not enough pressure and he won't bite. Too much and he'll be annoyed, pissed off, and put off. And he needs time, don't expect the answer right away.

I send him a text or two and wait. No reply. I call him more than once. Now he's curious so he answers.

I go right for the sale, "Wanna go camp tonight and run a river tomorrow? I'll drive the shuttle and take photos."

"I have a brunch meeting/interview tomorrow, I can't."

A pause.

"What river?"

I tell him about one of my favorite runs, the beautiful intimate canyon, and quiet camping.

"I can't go, but sounds cool."

"Well that's lame, doesn't she know it's a weekend and you have fun things to do? I think you're having a family emergency," is my not completely mocked annoyed reply.

He holds fast and we get off the phone.

Twenty minutes later he calls back, "I can go."

Works like a charm.

Things about to get a little thorny 
That face says it all
Fast-forward a few hours and we're finally on the road to a quick blast of fresh air, cold and boiling water, and no cell service. A micro-venture to run the Lake Fork of the Gunnison in packrafts.

One of my personal favorite rivers, it taught me how to scout a rapid for the safest line, push aside my fear, and commit to paddling into known dangers with no clue of how the boat would react. Now I was getting to share it with Keri, my soon to be wife, and Travis, brother from another mother. Despite having a broken wrist and not being able to paddle, I think I was more excited than either of them.

We set camp up in shadows cast by canyon walls, and with beer in hand, took a short jaunt to look at the run. I briefly wondered if they'd sleep more soundly knowing how the river would challenge them or leaving it to their respective imaginations. Pondering that question too long would be a waste, however. Travis forgot a sleeping bag so he'd sleep poorly regardless and Keri excels at sleeping anywhere, anytime. As for me, I'd sleep as well as one does when enlivened by thoughts of tomorrow.

I dropped Keri and Travis off at the put-in and drove 5 miles along the river, parking beside Last Chance rapid, returning to the put-in via a one-handed bike ride (broken wrist=shuttle driver, photographer, and eddy identifier).

"If you see me on the bank not making a scene, I'm shooting photos. If I'm making a scene, pull over and scout."


With that, they launched into the first rapid immediately and I was thrilled. Race ahead, pull camera, shoot, make a scene, repeat.

I offered advice and watched on at the larger named rapids, knowing well the battle Keri and Travis were playing in their mind's. By day's end there'd be a few swims and saves and a well earned beer. There would also be heaps of learning, though neither of them would realize it till days later. I too could enjoy an earned beer and a had a forth-coming lesson of my own.

Although truly feeling a part of their experience and my genuine excitement to share this river with them, there existed some degree of jealously. I had a longing to be in the water with them and have more than my reminiscing to bond over, but as Travis pointed out, had I been in the water, I would have missed a great many of the photos I brought home. Lesson learned.

Possibilites, not impossibilities.

Learning what happens when the line is missed


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