August 3, 2012--Upper Animas like Beethoven’s Fifth (Durango Herald)

Like a good piece of sheet music, the Animas River has its A notes and D notes; its quarter, half and whole notes; its flats, sharps, tempo changes, staccatos, trills and accents. “Basically, a river is a sheet of music,” said Dave Eckenrode, a senior guide with Durango’s Mountain Waters Rafting. “Running a river is like reading a sheet of music: The trees and rocks are your notes.” The musicians – guides – always are looking ahead, flowing with the page as it flies forward, letting the instruments – the bodies and the boat – reflexively glide through the riffs as they hit. And if every river is a composition, the Upper Animas – a world-class, 28-mile-long Class V stretch of rapids nestled in a canyon surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks and blossoming meadows – has to be Beethoven’s Fifth. “When it’s rock ’em, sock ’em, it’s one of the most fearsome (stretches of river) around,” Eckenrode said. “That place is magic,” Mountain Waters co-owner James Wilkes said. “It’s 30 miles of absolute mayhem. It’s got so much different personality at every water level, so you never really know what you’re going to find up there,” longtime Upper Animas runner Dale Womack said. “Beautiful and mean and fun, and everything a body needs.”

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