Debacles on the Yampa08/15/2023 07:00AM ● By Deb Olsen
Publisher's Note by Deb Olsen from Steamboat Magazine Outdoors Edition 2023.
At the same time, local river guru Eugene Buchanan relentlessly pitched “The Case of the Steamboat Sting,” the abridged version of which appears on page 44. It is sure to leave you wanting more (in)famous river tales, which you will find on page 60.
I’m sorry I don’t have my own deliriously happy river stories to share with you. While I love the Yampa River on an almost sacred level, it has brought mostly misadventure to me. There was the time I got such a bad sunburn tubing the Yampa that I had to wear dresses for a week – an outlandish idea in Steamboat Springs. Lesson learned: best to look dorky in long sleeves on the river than to glow in the dark for a week.
Then there was the time I took a beginner kayak lesson with my family and bashed my 10-year-old son in the head after he tipped his own kayak, just a few feet ahead of me. Thank god for helmets.
My now-grown son, undaunted by my own river misadventures, took his too-small children (my precious granddaughters!) for a late-afternoon float down the river that ended in near disaster, a distress call and the girls’ vows of “never again,” which they have since recanted, thankfully.
When my dog was still a pup, I decided to teach her to swim in the Yampa. We found a secluded beach, and I cradled her in my arms while I stumbled from one rock to the next, all the way across the river. Turns out the security of being held was much less traumatic than striking out on her own. She did, indeed, learn to swim, but not that day.
Despite the debacles, the Yampa River remains the main vein of my lifelong love affair with the Yampa Valley. I hope this edition will inspire you to float, fish, photograph or run the river yourselves.