FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – Swollen rivers fed by huge amounts of snow still waiting to melt off mountaintop has Colorado rafting guides bracing for a season that could be spectacular — or could be disastrous if the runs are too dangerous for rafting.

The Coloradoan newspaper reports that Poudre River rafting companies are bracing for too much of a good thing if the snowpack melts too quickly. Rivers across the region are expected to swell in coming weeks as the snowmelt begins in earnest, with floods anticipated in many areas.

For rafting companies, high snowpack is a godsend — as long as the runoff is delayed and steady. A quick warmup can force cancellations because of dangerous conditions.

Mike Koliha, president of the Poudre Paddlers Canoe and Kayak Club, told the paper that raging rivers might satisfy adrenaline junkies, but they create treacherous conditions for rafters, kayakers and tubers.

“I personally would rather see it not peak at 6,000 cubic feet per second, or cfs, for two days, then taper off to nothing,” Koliha said. “Some people look forward to a couple days (of fast water), but they’re nuts. I hope tubers have enough sense to realize what they’re getting into.”

Pat Legel, owner of A Wanderlust Adventure, says she’s hoping for conditions are similar to 1995 when spring was cool and rain fell 60 out of 61 days.

“In that instance, we had a nice level runout throughout the summer with just the normal few days of really high water. That’s what I’m hoping for this year,” Legel said.

Legel said rafting companies are used to weather conditions making the business uncertain.

“Every couple years, it’s something. Fires in ’02; a rock slide in ’99 that shut the canyon down for three weeks, minor flooding here and there. Then there are droughts when there’s not much water.

“We’re gonna be out there. We’re gonna be rafting. It may not be perfect water levels or perfect weather, but it will be more of a typical year with some sort of problem involved. We’ll carry on and do the best we can and keep as many people as happy as possible.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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