MISSOULA, Mont. - Each summer, thousands of people visit Montana to raft the whitewater of the state's numerous rivers. With a strong and even runoff, conditions this year could hardly be better, and this week on the Clark Fork River, there's an added bonus.
Rafting guide Josh Dickens, with Pangaea Rafting Company, describes what it was like to see the derailment wreckage for the first time.
"July 4th, just above Fang Rapid, a lady was telling us to stay river right," said Dickens. "So I said 'OK,' not thinking much to it, and there they were. My reaction, as you can imagine, was something along the lines of…silence… Same with my rafters. It really threw me off."
In the days since then, three Boeing 737 fuselages that came to rest in the Clark Fork after the derailment have been a source of excitement and disbelief.
"I think it feels unreal," said Spokane resident Sara Marks, on a Pangaea rafting trip with friends. "You're out here in nature and everything looks so pristine, and then, all of a sudden, bam. There's the fuselages."
"When you first come upon it, it looks like a plane just crashed into the side of a mountain," said Diane Freeby, another rafter. "You can't really plan for something like this."
"It's a great day for us," added Marks. "But probably not a great day for the railroad company."