How Chicken Raper Rapid got it's name! The true story! - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 03-31-2013   #1
J9er
 
Arboles, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
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How Chicken Raper Rapid got it's name! The true story!

1975 was an historical time for the Dolores River in Southwestern Colorado. On January 3rd, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed public law 93-621 amending the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This amendment authorized study of the Dolores River and 28 other study streams. Of the 29 selections, the Dolores was singled out to be an accelerated study and all findings were by law required to be submitted by January 3rd, 1976.

Shortly after the bill was signed, a study team in Colorado was formed and Don Bock was appointed to lead the team of Govenment Agencies. The study was to be conducted by foot, from horse back, by raft, by motor vehicle and from the air.

The rafting segment of the trip would be a four day trip from Bradfields Ranch to Bedrock, CO, examining 94 miles of the Dolores. A second segment would begin at Gateway, CO and go 32 miles to Dewey Bridge, UT in 1 day.This was definitely an accelerated study trip. Lots of river miles and a short time frame to get it all done. We at Rocky Mountain River Expeditions would become the river outfitter to provide the guides and equipment to do both segments of the Wild and Scenic River Study Trip by raft. On this trip, Chicken Raper rapid at State Line would get it's name. We had run the Bradfield to Bedrock segment before, but the 32 mile section from Gateway to Dewey Bridge had never been floated by anyone on the trip.

Nicknames on the river are as common as mud on the bank, but how people get nicknames ia as varied as water flows from year to year. Of course, Chicken Raper as a river guide nickname probably does need some explanation. Allow me to share how quickly a nickname can stick - good or bad!

In the early days it was great that young ladies had a desire to become professional river guides. Some of them became the best paddle boat captain's this side of the Mississippi. In this case a beautiful young gal named Chris Raffin applied for a guide position with Rocky Mountain River Expeditions. She had been on one trip, floating the Yampa River with a group from East High School in Denver. She very much enjoyed rafting and thought it would be fun on weekends. As with many bitten by the river bug, it became her passion.

She needed to get geared up and like most of us, she didn't have much money. She and her Mom enjoyed going to garage sales. Tent, sleeping bag, wool clothing, rain gear and a duffle bag was all found in someone's garage. Alright, ready for training on the Dolores River in early May, 1975. Of course, it is a very cold beginning for trips on the Upper Dolores. First night camp was time for Chris to get familiar with her garage sale treasures that would keep her warm and dry. The next morning about first light she came crawling out of her little tent. We were getting the fire going for coffee and breakfast, when "Big Mike" looked over as she walked toward the fire. She was covered in feathers from her garage sale down sleeping bag! Mike looked up, pointed at her and shouted, "Look, it's a Chicken Raper!" We had a hearty laugh and then a hearty breakfast. The name stuck and throughout her time guiding trips, her passengers affectionately referred to her as Chicken Raper.

Later that month we were contracted to conduct the Dolores Wild and Scenic River Study. Chris was on the trip and did an unbelievable rescue of one of the BLM guys at State Line Rapid. We renamed it Chicken Raper Rapid and the BLM guy ended up with a pretty good leg gash. We all survived an incredible Dolores trip that we will never forget.

Chicken Raper continued to be a professional river guide and other river nicknames came and went. She received the Boatman's Hall of Fame award in 1977 after a number of great river trips. In April of 1979 she was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. She would never be able to enjoy the river as she had before. We did go on trips as her health would allow. We married in October, 1981 and went to see the Frazier River at Hells Canyon in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her cancer worsened and she battled bone cancer over time until she could no more. She passed a year and a half after we married, on January 25, 1983. The River God needed a great river guide and Chicken Raper was her name.

Tune in to Cortez Radio KSJD on Thursday, April 11th at 8:30 AM. Jay and I (Dennis "D-9er" Schell) will talk more about the Dolores Wild & Scenic River trip conducted in May, 1975.

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Old 03-31-2013   #2
Old Guy in a PFD
 
Colorado Springs, Colorado
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RIP Chris; always full of fire and life, it was a pleasure to know her and run rivers with her.
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Old 03-31-2013   #3
 
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That is a great story Jan, thanks for sharing. A bittersweet reminder of how fleeting life can be. You never really know what's around the next bend. She must have been one hell of a gal to be able to carry that nickname!
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Old 03-31-2013   #4
 
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NorCal, California
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Thanks for sharing the story and providing a nice bit of history on the Dolores. The Dolores will always have a special place for me as it was the first river that I had an opportunity to do a multiday trip on. Still on of my favorites.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitches 'N Stuff View Post
1975 was an historical time for the Dolores River in Southwestern Colorado. On January 3rd, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed public law 93-621 amending the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This amendment authorized study of the Dolores River and 28 other study streams. Of the 29 selections, the Dolores was singled out to be an accelerated study and all findings were by law required to be submitted by January 3rd, 1976.

Shortly after the bill was signed, a study team in Colorado was formed and Don Bock was appointed to lead the team of Govenment Agencies. The study was to be conducted by foot, from horse back, by raft, by motor vehicle and from the air.

The rafting segment of the trip would be a four day trip from Bradfields Ranch to Bedrock, CO, examining 94 miles of the Dolores. A second segment would begin at Gateway, CO and go 32 miles to Dewey Bridge, UT in 1 day.This was definitely an accelerated study trip. Lots of river miles and a short time frame to get it all done. We at Rocky Mountain River Expeditions would become the river outfitter to provide the guides and equipment to do both segments of the Wild and Scenic River Study Trip by raft. On this trip, Chicken Raper rapid at State Line would get it's name. We had run the Bradfield to Bedrock segment before, but the 32 mile section from Gateway to Dewey Bridge had never been floated by anyone on the trip.

Nicknames on the river are as common as mud on the bank, but how people get nicknames ia as varied as water flows from year to year. Of course, Chicken Raper as a river guide nickname probably does need some explanation. Allow me to share how quickly a nickname can stick - good or bad!

In the early days it was great that young ladies had a desire to become professional river guides. Some of them became the best paddle boat captain's this side of the Mississippi. In this case a beautiful young gal named Chris Raffin applied for a guide position with Rocky Mountain River Expeditions. She had been on one trip, floating the Yampa River with a group from East High School in Denver. She very much enjoyed rafting and thought it would be fun on weekends. As with many bitten by the river bug, it became her passion.

She needed to get geared up and like most of us, she didn't have much money. She and her Mom enjoyed going to garage sales. Tent, sleeping bag, wool clothing, rain gear and a duffle bag was all found in someone's garage. Alright, ready for training on the Dolores River in early May, 1975. Of course, it is a very cold beginning for trips on the Upper Dolores. First night camp was time for Chris to get familiar with her garage sale treasures that would keep her warm and dry. The next morning about first light she came crawling out of her little tent. We were getting the fire going for coffee and breakfast, when "Big Mike" looked over as she walked toward the fire. She was covered in feathers from her garage sale down sleeping bag! Mike looked up, pointed at her and shouted, "Look, it's a Chicken Raper!" We had a hearty laugh and then a hearty breakfast. The name stuck and throughout her time guiding trips, her passengers affectionately referred to her as Chicken Raper.

Later that month we were contracted to conduct the Dolores Wild and Scenic River Study. Chris was on the trip and did an unbelievable rescue of one of the BLM guys at State Line Rapid. We renamed it Chicken Raper Rapid and the BLM guy ended up with a pretty good leg gash. We all survived an incredible Dolores trip that we will never forget.

Chicken Raper continued to be a professional river guide and other river nicknames came and went. She received the Boatman's Hall of Fame award in 1977 after a number of great river trips. In April of 1979 she was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. She would never be able to enjoy the river as she had before. We did go on trips as her health would allow. We married in October, 1981 and went to see the Frazier River at Hells Canyon in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her cancer worsened and she battled bone cancer over time until she could no more. She passed a year and a half after we married, on January 25, 1983. The River God needed a great river guide and Chicken Raper was her name.

Tune in to Cortez Radio KSJD on Thursday, April 11th at 8:30 AM. Jay and I (Dennis "D-9er" Schell) will talk more about the Dolores Wild & Scenic River trip conducted in May, 1975.
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Old 03-31-2013   #5
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Thank you for sharing that with all of us.

From now on I will call Stateline "Chicken Raper".... as funny a name as it is.
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Old 03-31-2013   #6
 
Andy H.'s Avatar
 
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Jan,

That was beautiful and, especially for a story about that particular name, quite touching.

Thanks for posting it!

-AH
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Old 03-31-2013   #7
 
thornton, Colorado
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RIP Chris. One power house of a river guide. Thanks for posting that D9er and J9er.
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Old 04-02-2013   #8
 
Stoner, Colorado
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Thank you very much for sharing that story, great history! I'll be tuning in to hear you guys on the 11th.
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Old 04-03-2013   #9
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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Thanks for sharing that with us D9er! I'm compelled to add that Rocky Mt. River Expeditions was one of the finest river outfitters around back in those days and I have terrific memories of my 4 years with the company! Folks today could hardly believe how we ran with wooden dryboxes, knowledge of how to tie knots (no cam straps available), cooked everything we ate on campfires and kept ourselves warm with wool! What treasured memories and what skills we had! Schutzie - - thanks for hiring me! D9er - - thanks for firing me too! Learned some great lessons and still running safely and with humility all these years later!
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Old 04-03-2013   #10
Old Guy in a PFD
 
Colorado Springs, Colorado
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RMRE set a lot of standards in the day; first to run paddle boats commercially I think, certainly the first to hire women as guides, and first to run a J rig down the Dolores; more of a grading run than a float

But, "wooden dry boxes"? Wood yes, dry no!

And I remember a weekend on North Platte when the rangers rolled out the next morning wearing our T shirts over their uniforms...what was left of them...and grins on their faces. Doubt that could happen today. I didn't know it then, but I met my wife that weekend.
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