As fortunate as so many of us are to live enveloped in nature here in Colorado, many of us still get wanderlust for new adventures. As someone who loves to explore new places and people, I have been restless. All I can say over and over again is, “manifest it and it will come,” it seems that I manifested Solomon Liston who appeared at a Wednesday Aspen Business Connect Coffee Chat. A social man, and a native of Glenwood Springs, Solomon realized we needed to meet in person and so together we organized a Glenwood Springs FAM Tour.
A native of Glenwood Springs Solomon has been a raft guide on the Colorado River for over 20 years and is also the Owner of SLR Relations, LLC, where he uses relationship-building to foster business growth and boost tourism in Glenwood Springs. According to the Hot Springs Connection, “In 2015 Solomon was recognized as one of the top ten frontline tourism workers in the state of Colorado, designated by the Colorado Tourism Board.”
Iron Mountain Hot Springs
Two weeks later we met in person for the first time at the Iron Mountain Hot Springs at 9:00 am to avoid any possible crowds. Solomon goes to IMHS weekly to rejuvenate and had assured me in advance that they run a tight operation abiding by Covid-19 protocol. As one who has not been inserting myself into social situations, this adventure was my first interlude back into the social world and I was relieved to feel safe.
Slipping into the pools we let the healing minerals soothe our bodies. With 16 soaking pools, all set at different temperatures ranging from 98 to 108 degrees, we had many choices to find the temperature that was just right, thankfully both Solomon and I preferred the lower temps where we didn’t melt from the heat. But with temperatures rapidly rising into the hundreds outside the pools, it didn’t take us long to cannonball it into the refreshing family pool, the largest of pools at the venue filled with 100,000 gallons of fresh water and heated to 94 degrees Fahrenheit by the geothermal exchange. It was so lovely to be playing in the water, but Solomon had people for us to meet and adventures for us to experience and so we rinsed off and raced on to our next activity.
Rafting Shoshone with Whitewater Rafting LLC
After experiencing lunch in the courtyard of the Hotel Colorado (soon to be published as Part 2) with no time to spare, we changed back into our bathing suits and headed out for our next water excursion. I was about to experience Solomon in action as a guide with Whitewater Rafting, LLC.
Owned by Erik and Phoebe Larsson, it seemed as though the criteria to become a raft guide at their operation was not only to have rafting skills but also to have a playful demeanor. Solomon fit right in, and with his heart-felt laugh, he rigged us up and corralled us out to the bus and onto the Colorado River, the same river that cuts through the Grand Canyon.
Taking the helm Solomon guided us through the Shoshone Class III-IV rapids, as we threw down our best rowing so as not to capsize over the scary-sounding names like; Baptism, Tombstone, Razor’s Edge and Maneater. With us was a fellow native of Glenwood Springs and Solomon’s “plus one” for dinner dates and events, Stacey Novak, VP of the Glenwood Springs Firstbank branch. FirstBank is a sponsor of Aspen Business Connect, and also was a sponsor of our evening supporting the local business owners of Glenwood Springs. Also with us was Nicolas Rojas, Owner of Tank Media and our videographer for the day and evening.
The Colorado River stretch that runs through Glenwood Springs once upon a time had nomadic Ute Indian tribes visiting the sacred caves in the hills above for healing and rejuvenation. Sadly the caves were sealed over while the railways were being built.
The Ute Indians were a group of nomadic hunter-gatherers. For countless generations, they made regular treks through the Glenwood Springs region following the herds and the weather. The geothermal wonders of the area were well known to them and they named the spring Yampah or Big Medicine in the Ute language.VisitGlenwood.com
As we floated through the canyon with Solomon telling us the history of the Ute Indians and the railway, the healing tranquility of the water left me feeling both revived and bereft at the plight of the Ute who came to this magical canyon to heal but who then were massacred and forced off the land and into reservations by the white man over gold, silver, and coal. Despicable treatment that still exists today as other indigenous tribes get wiped off the face of our earth, their wisdom buried along with their bodies into their graves. Reflecting on what was and what is now, with intermittent rapids to break me out of serious contemplation, I indeed felt baptized by the water and by the spirit of the Indians as their everlasting presence remains, somehow still peaceful and nurturing.
With a motto that states, “Where There is Water, There is Life,” Glenwood Springs in the summer is truly a water paradise, and Solomon was just the man to show me how. I would have gone home happy if that was all we experienced, but Solomon had a full day on his agenda and so the story continues in Part 2 where he introduces me to the Chefs and restaurant owners of his favorite spots, so stay tuned for more.