Floating the Gunnison Gorge has become something of an annual tradition and signifies the unofficial start of my fall season. That is in no small part due to the fact that the cast-and-blast trip requires me to shift my mind from my summer exploits and start thinking about wild upland birds and whether my dog still knows how to hunt, or more importantly whether I still know how to knock birds down.
One of the most rewarding aspects of each year's Gunny trip is bringing new people to this incredibly special rift in the southwest-central part of Colorado. Last year, Kyle and I were lucky enough to bring my friend and Gunnison River newbie, Chauncey, and photographer extraordinaire Russ Schnitzer (www.schnitzerphoto.com) along for the ride. With Kyle tied up in Oregon this year (where his lovely fiance was likely out-rowing and out-fishing him on the Deschutes) and Russ likely off in some remote location gallivanting with exotic fish species, I was free to fill the boats as I pleased. Ultimately this meant dragging two guys who had never been on a float trip before on a 5 day odyssey. Best part of the trip for me: the parallel between the two first timers in awe of every bend in that canyon and Mort (www.gunnisonriverpro.com), who, despite having spent countless days on that river over thirty years, still revels in stepping into that canyon and getting behind the oars. Each reminded me how truly special it is, and how fortunate I am/we are, to be able to access such wild places.
However, no Russ meant that the photos would be (much) less print worthy; and no Kyle meant that my rusty rowing skills would be put to the test on the narrow boulder fields of the lower gorge. Luckily, I've still got some mojo on the sticks and my camera (and the group) survived for me to share a few shots from this year's trip.