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Showing posts from December, 2009

What Lies Ahead, We Know Not

When John Wesley Powell launched his stolid but, ultimately, fragile boats down the unknown of the Colorado River system in the late 1800's. The title was a common refrain amongst his hardy adventurers. The same phrase could be muttered about the future of river rafting.

In the few decades I have been floating rivers, inflatable rafts have not changed substantially from the military-issue models that I rafted the Green and Colorado Rivers with Prescott College in 1974. The military gave you the option of black, black or black. Self-bailing models arrived in the late '80s and our Project RAFT Orion team was sponsored by Maravia to the use of a hot-pink Williwaw I during the competitive events at Nantahala Outdoor Center.

Inflatable manufacturers have experimented with boat designs --- diminishing bow and sterns rather than symmetrical or asymmetrical, building boats with internal bladders as AIRE does and making rafts out of polymers (the movie The Graduate warned us in the &…