Commercially guiding for 18 seasons now, I trained with Adventure Specialist Whitewater and Tim McDonald, who may be intense at times, but has impeccable river skills. He laid the foundation of my river guiding. Then I went to work for KODI and have been there ever since. As a prodigy of Campy Campton, whom I highly respect as a safe boater, friend and mentor, I am lucky enough to have become part of the Campton family.
Top 10 Rapids: My favorite section on the Arkansas is the Numbers. I like it because it’s fast, technical and no matter what the flow, always challenging. The Numbers’ rapids come at you one after another as it is continuous Class III and IV whitewater. Maybe back when the kayakers were naming things they felt as though the rapids came at you too fast to bother with long names.
Here’s my Top 10, starting in the Numbers:
1. #1 — It is technical and the first of Class IV rapids. (Indicates the potential of your paddlers and what the rest of your day has in store).
2. #4 — Because of its technicality it’s always changing at all water levels, with high consequence.
3. #6 — My favorite number at any water level: Big holes, technical and longer. The S-shaped curve of this rapid adds to the technical aspect. Super fun.
4. Miracle Mile — In the narrows, it’s fast, fun and splashy at higher water flows.
Browns Canyon: Clearly a wonderful run with great aspects from mild to wild. The rapids in Browns Canyon were originally named by kayakers. Some of them were different. What we know now as Big Drop was called Widow Maker.
The Staircase was known as Roller Coaster and Widow Maker was called Washing Machine. Raft Ripper was known as Razorblade (aka Jaws). Seidel’s Suckhole is named after Eric Seidel. Originally I think the Toilet Bowl in Widow Maker was called Seidel’s Suckhole. Twin Falls was called Double Drop, which is self-explanatory.
5. Zoom Flume — Most likely named because of its fast, steep, narrow chute; always fun and splashy.
6. Seven Stairs — My favorite. It is such a beautiful rapid. The canyon narrows and when you look around, it’s so pretty. It is long and straightforward, and if you know how to hit the individual waves, you can manage to get a splash at any water level.
7. Seidel’s Suckhole — Because this rapid probably has the most carnage. It’s big water, easy to run correctly, but also easy to mess up.
8. Twin Falls — I like this rapid because at high water it’s probably the biggest hit with customers. It has high consequences if you flip or end up in the drink, as a rock garden sits at the bottom of this rapids that is notorious for collecting strainers. The fact that you cannot scout this rapid really adds to the “pucker factor.”
9. Pine Creek — This rapid is always an adrenaline rush, although I do not run it commercially. It is the only Class V rapid on the Ark, so there is a novelty to that.
10. The deep Royal Gorge is a great run, producing two great rapids: Sunshine and Boateater.
The head guide at KODI rafting, where she’s trained guides for 15 years, Krista Kiratibutr Martinson is a Colorado native who bartends in the off-season at Copper Mountain Resort