The Greatest Day I’ve Had in YEARS

By Mild to Wild   •   May 27, 2024

I’m coming right out of the gate to give all credit where it is rightfully due…and place full responsibility for the best day I’ve had in years, at the feet of two incredible men: Ashton Black and Art “Pappa Dukes” Trevino! I have no clue how to condense all I have to say about these two extraordinary guides (Ashton: River Rafting; Pappa Dukes: Jeep Tour), so I’ll limit it to the very best part of each tour, as they pertain each guide who made it so:

Ashton immediately assuaged every reservation, apprehension and insecurity I had about the rafting tour, before his feet hit the ground as he opened up the van door to greet us. His enthusiasm when he addressed us BY NAME, before we even could open our mouths to introduce ourselves, set the stage for all that was to come on the most exhilarating and confidence-building time of our lives! He not only gave us every reason to feel 100% safe under his expert care, competent in our rafting abilities, and of vital important to the mission that laid before us…he tailor-made our experience perfectly & wonderfully to be EXACTLY what we needed, and more than we ever dreamed it could be.

Ashton extended the experience…both in time & distance, and added exhilarating challenges for us to conquer with him…based on his faith in us as worthy partners in nailing those challenges. And he did all of these things with & for us, while exhibiting pure enjoyment himself, and appearing every bit as excited to be adventuring with us, as we were with him. He’s incredibly contagious.

Every time I think back on our 3-hour adventure with Pappa Dukes, I instantly feel homesick and nostalgic for my spiritual brother from a past life. Not only was the tour taylor-made and personalized to our needs, expectations, and areas of interest…he was so engaging and knocked every component, nuance, and stop along the way, out of the park. And because his subtle and unassuming manner of execution was so flawless that it seemed effortless, it wasn’t until today – 3 days & 931 miles past – that it hit me….

Pappa Dukes is so skilled and intuitive – his knowledge and expertise are so refined – that he tailored our entire experience in a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ fashion. Right out of the gate, he was incredibly present, interested, and invested in us. He was gathering information, plucking out relevant details, and picking up on subtleties, cues, and unspoken clues in order to gain a complete, well-rounded foundation upon which to build a meaningful and unforgettable afternoon experience for us – one brick at a time.

The knowledge and clues he pulled from every captivated gaze, photo we’d take, and comment we’d make, is how he strategically laid each brick that we ultimately “chose” as “our own [successive] adventure”…as we explored the wonders of the La Plata mountains, and our own humanity in the process. Every single bit of knowledge and insight that he chose to share or explore with us was piqued our interest, tapped into our wheelhouses, challenged our prior knowledge or beliefs, and/or sparked some of the most stimulating & inspiring conversations.

It was only a matter of single-digit minutes into our drive through Durango – headed to the magical, mystical La Plata Canyon – that Art, our tour guide, transformed into Pappa Dukes, our friend, and the rest of the trip remained as personable & intimate as that.

I have never felt such a spiritual connection and oneness with the earth…and all of her moving parts & living creations from the past, the present, and the future. And I’m finally interwoven with my Aspen family and forever protected under their watchful eye.

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