Veterans observe a day of adventure at Browns Canyon National Monument near Salida.
AS DAWN BRIGHTENED the sky in Browns Canyon National Monument, the sun teased the canyon’s stone domes. The sound of the river and birdsong filled the air.
In a small clearing dotted with tents, men and women unzipped into the new day, stretching and smiling. Friendly banter immediately left their lips. After making breakfast together, they loaded rafts and paddled into Zoom Flume, a series of Class III and Class IV rapids on the Arkansas River in Chaffee County near Salida.
Following the guide’s instructions, they paddled the rapids eagerly and with ease, laughing through the whitewater spray. They seemed at peace on a mountain river, in the sun, with friends. Watching them from afar, one would never guess nearly all were strangers just two days before.
Now connected through adventure and the canyon, these military veterans were on a long weekend organized by Veterans Expeditions (VetEx), a Colorado-based nonprofit that creates a supportive community among veterans of all eras through shared outdoor experiences. This was a typically diverse VetEx group: vets who served in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and eras between. They were nurses, mechanics, special forces and more.
For the rest of the story see the May/June 2020 issue of Colorado Life.