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A Summer by the Riverside

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Photos by Selena Rodriguez

The Cache La Poudre River: wild, scenic, and in August of this summer, it became my office. I couldn’t wait to spend my days in the canyon, taking photos while being completely enveloped in nature.

When I wasn’t taking photos of the boats or driving the van from photo-stop to photo-stop, I had nothing but downtime. A big part of being a rafting photographer was waiting: waiting for the raft guides to load the boats; waiting for the rain to pass; waiting for the boats to cascade down the river.

With all of that waiting, there was a lot of time for me to photograph not only boats but all of the beauty surrounding me.

There was so much to see. The canyon was like a completely different world, its steep walls home to the most colorful of residents.

There are about five rafting companies that run the Poudre. Most are local but some make the journey from Estes Park to enjoy our wild and scenic river. With photographers working for each company, I was never really alone while waiting for my boats.

One of the canyon locals I always loved the company of was this little bird. The American Dipper is a water bird that calls the riverside its home. They’re curious little ones and beautiful to watch dance against the breeze.

Regular run-ins with wildlife was a constant on the job. It was an honor to share the canyon with so many amazing animals, ranging from birds to bats.

Of course, capturing moments like this was an amazing part of the job as well. Nothing can make me smile faster than seeing the frozen looks of joy, sheer terror, or bewilderment on the faces of the passing rafters.

And there was no beating the littlest passengers’ reactions after their whitewater adventures.

Since my sophomore year of high school, I’ve cycled through job after job after job. But I can say with full confidence that this was the best job I’ve ever had. I met so many lovely people and made memories that I’ll cherish forever.

Rafting is a culture in its own right. The raft guides are lovable, goofy characters. People from around the country, even around the world, come to ride the rapids and take in the vibes of the Poudre River. It’s a community built off of camaraderie and good times. And I’m so glad I was able to spend my summer immersed in that community.



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