More high water clear creek in the last couple weeks, as well as some more Ark Valley shenanagins.  A couple of weeks ago we got back to the Ark valley for Fibark and caught Clear Creek of the Ark at around 320 and the Numbers at 2100 or so.  CCA was a blast as usual; I ran it with Scott and a couple of young guns.  Scott was uncomfortable in his Gradient and hiked out just above the first gorge and the rest of us routed through the rest of it with no problems, though I did get pushed up on edge a bit by the undercut wall above the crux in the second gorge.

The numbers was fun and gave me a good opportunity to get out in the new Karma in some pushier water.  We ran it twice, once Saturday and once Sunday, and both without any drama to speak of.

Then it was back to high water Black Rock; last week we ran Black Rock through Lower with a sizeable group at 1500 or so, and then this past weekend we were back at around 1050 for BR and lower one day, and then a Dumont/Town/Upper run on Sunday.  I forgot how many fun ledgy boofs are in the Dumont section; last time I was there the water was high enough to wash all of those features out.  Pretty low stress boating, but a fun time.


Tis the season of lost gear and rocks moving around in the rivers.

Big Thompson
A week and a half ago Ian, Steve, Bridger, and I ran the renovated Big Thompson at somewhere between 700 and 1,000.  The floods changed the riverbed significantly, and completely rearranged the "sluff" section. Cannon shot is now a sizable waterfall that looks like it lands directly onto rocks.  Too bad.  The steep rapid by Drake is steeper and filled with chunky, nearly riverwide holes at the flows we saw it at, so between that and some strainers upstream we put in just below the Drake rapid.  Watch out for the death culverts not terribly far below town.

The run was fun, with big holes and bigger waves, but the rapids were not of any real high quality -- at recent flows I'd say both Boulder Creek and Clear Creek provide for better runs.  Throughout the run we could hear rocks of various sizes bumping and clunking along the river bottom with the flow.  The water was brown and silty and I was clearing grit from my eyes for most of the trip.  Our lines were generally clean and drama-free, though once we got past the old dam site (a former portage, now the dam is completely gone) there were certainly some big holes and features to avoid.  Nobody was really taking hero lines since all we had was a quick shore-scout, but things went fine.  Til the end, anyway.

I drifted back from the group and was surprised by a new rapid that was just above our takeout.  I saw Bridger drop over a large wave into what I thought was another big wavetrain.  It wasn't.  Instead, it was a very large and very deep hole that stopped me dead and flipped me.  I rolled back up and found myself side-surfing in the powerful hole.  I tried to claw out to the river-right side, but it stern-endered me and flipped me again.  Creekboat rodeo time.  I flipped back up, still in the hole, and tried to claw my way out.  Then it flipped me again.  And the whole process repeated itself again.  I was deep enough in the seam that I was only able to get a quick breath before it rolled me again.  The fourth flip was violent enough that it threw me halfway out of my thighbraces.  Half out of my boat and mostly out of air, I pushed out of my boat and swam.

The force of the river was strong enough that it held me down under the hole's backwash and bounced me along the bottom of the river for a while - maybe for 25-50 yards or so.  I popped back up below the majority of the rapid and yelled at the rest of the crew, half of which were already getting out of their boats in the takeout eddy.  Ian hit me with a rope and got me to shore, and Steve managed to snatch my paddle.

My boat wasn't so lucky.  It floated past the small eddies and downstream.  Steve and I took the shore route while Ian drove along the road, but we couldn't find it.  Past the old park (which is now closed and basically a huge gravel bar) the river gorges up surprisingly.  Steve and I did a lot of hiking in drysuits but didn't find the boat.  We ran shuttle, and then Steve, Bridger, and I drove along the road, stopping here and there to see if we could see the boat in an eddy or on a gravel bar somewhere.  We passed three dams, including a 15 footer that dropped onto rocks and the huge dam at the Dam Store, which created what may be one of the strongest holes/boils I've ever seen.  I was not optimistic about finding the boat in any decent condition below those features.

And lo and behold, we took the first turn over the river past the Dam Store and saw my yellow boat washed up on a gravel bar.  It was not doing so great.  The nose cone was ripped off, a 6" crack had been ripped into the hull, and the hull near the cockpit had been obviously deformed.  While I may be able to patch it up a bit and make a mank boat out of it, it's the end of the road for this boat as an expedition creeker.

Clear Creek 
The following day we got out with a big group to run Clear Creek from Kermits down through Lower at 1800 or so, by far the most water I've ever seen on the river.  I was paddling a Nomad borrowed from Preston, so I was a bit nervous about the big water.  Kermits ran fine, with far more waves than holes.  I walked Black Rock and most of the crew walked the Narrows.  Though Black Rock was big it went pretty smoothly.  The usual line was still present in the Narrows, but a swim there could be life-changing (and life-threatening, for that matter).  I walked Rigo as well, though a couple of lines through the rapid showed that it went fine.  The lower was fun as well, and Screaming Quarter was a blast, and we ended the run with no drama.

Clear Creek
Then last week I got out for one after-work Black Rock/Lower run at 1600 or so.  Still in the borrowed boat, I had plans to walk Black Rock but was too casual about grabbing my last-chance eddy.  As I slowly leaked out of the eddy I decided to run it, glad I had scouted in advance.  It was big, but went fine.  This time the entire crew walked the Narrows, though a few decided to run Rigo.  Lower was a little more exciting than last time around -- Roy was flipped by Elbow and pushed into the wall, where he carped a couple of rolls and then swam.  Though he swam in the same location a couple of weeks ago, this time things didn't go so smoothly - instead of quickly reaching the safety of the river-right eddy, both he and his boat were pulled downstream by the quick current.  He bashed his legs over some rocks before getting pulled to shore, and his boat went a good deal further before we could get it to an eddy and then back over to the near shore to reunite with Roy.  Fortunately, neither were any worse for wear.  We were able to get off the water before dark, though not by much, in light of the rescue and the late start.


Roy and I ran Black Rock yesterday at about 1050, which turns out translates to a nearly empty parking lot.  We scouted Rigo, the narrows, and black rock on the way up and ended up running everything but Rigo.  The river is pretty rowdy at these flows, with lots of big haystack waves and busy runouts to both black rock and the narrows.

The narrows was certainly the mental crux of the run (well, if you're not running Rigo, anyway).  It went pretty smoothly, though Roy ended up a little further right than he wanted to be on the entrance to Mr. Bill.  Black Rock ran smoother than I had expected. 

The big excitement actually came at Elbow Falls, which created a pretty sizeable wave/hole/thing.  I ran through pretty cleanly on the left, but Roy took a center line and was flipped by the secondary hole and pushed into the wall, where he failed a couple of roll attempts and then swam.  Fortunately, there is a river-right eddy where he was able to collect himself and his gear. Unfortunately, I didn't get it on film.

Screaming Quarter was a lot of fun, and full of pretty sizeable holes to dodge.  Looks like things will keep getting higher with this warm weather.


Summer 2014

Well, it's been a while since I've updated here, but I realized that I've missed having some sort of log of my kayaking adventures.  So here we are.

This weekend felt like the first real start of the kayaking season; we've been getting in some Gore and Black Rock runs here and there, but flows are finally starting to come up in earnest.  It was PaddleFest weekend in BV, and though the weather was marginal, the Numbers were at 1950 on Saturday and 2100 on Sunday, so they were a blast in the little boats.  On Saturday Beau and I put in at Granite and then caught up with a huge group at #2, even though they put in at the same time we did.  Apparently they had some troubles at 00 (who knew that was a rapid) and had 3 swimmers there, and some other carnage along the way.  We tagged along with them through #4 and helped pick up the pieces of some other swims before continuing on after #5.  Turned into nearly 5 hours on the river.

The next day Roy and I had the opposite experience, routing the entire run after playing on some waves here and there.  The whole river is a blast at these flows, with big waves to push you around but no real scary boily spots.  We had our eyes on Clear Creek of the Ark, but it never broke 200 cfs, and it seemed silly to bounce down rocks on that river while everything else was coming into prime flows.

On Monday Kevin, Roy, and I ran Boulder Creek at pretty solid flows -- something in the mid 400s I believe.  We put in as high as we could below the gnar and had a rollercoaster ride all the way into town.  Elephant Buttress had changed some and I messed up the entry move -- though I hit my boof well, I was side-surfed into a hole below it.  Fortunately, Roy was there with the assist, though he didn't really plan on being of much help -- he shot through the rapid not far behind me and knocked me out of the hole.  The rest of the rapid was a somewhat frantic attempt to regain momentum and stay out of Roy's way, since after the assist he was right behind me the rest of the way.  Another guy who joined us, Joel, did pretty well until he was stuck in one of the holes in the playpark -- aka the windowshade factory -- and swam.

Anyway, it's a good holiday weekend if you can use all of your toys.



Two weeks ago I got out for my first run on the Dumont/Lawson stretch of Clear Creek.  We had good flows, somewhere around 1200 cfs in Golden.  The run was fun, small-riverbed big-water sorts of feel in most of it, with a lot of ledges with standing wave-holes at the bottom. I was a little nervous, having never done the run, but things went fine. Outer Limits had more waves than holes, and went smoothly. No carnage to report either.
On Thursday I got out on Black Rock at 1200 or so with Ian and a couple of others. Ian and I walked Black Rock, the Narrows, and Rigor, though I probably should have run Black Rock in hindsight. The run was a lot of fun, with a lot of big waves and holes. I was spun around in the run-out of the Narrows which was a little more exciting than I would have liked, but it went smoothly after that. I was a little nervous about Elbow and Screaming Quarter Mile since I run them so frequently, but both of them went well, and Screaming Quarter Mile was a blast. There is still a boat pinned in the runout, which is boof-able at these flows.
Last weekend A and I went out to the Arkansas valley with the Hartmans and some friends. On Saturday we ran the Fractions, and then Numbers, at around 2150. The Fractions were all right, with some splashy-splash waves and a few good play spots, but there was enough raft traffic that it was dangerous to hang out and play for very long. The Numbers were a lot of fun, and A was even able to get some rafting in, which made things even better. No big carnage on either run.
Sunday brought an early-morning run of Clear Creek of the Ark at about 300 cfs. Fair bit of carnage there. Preston was a bit gripped, and swam out of the first big ledge hole we came across. We fetched his gear, and he decided to hike out. Then Dan swam out of the hole in the cauldron in the first gorge. He self-rescued and carried on, only to get flipped coming into an eddy between the gorges and swimming again. He walked out as well. Big Mike and I carried on into the second gorge, where he got surfed in a hole for a while but eventually made it out, and we were able to make it to the take-out in our boats. The run was more fun that I had remembered at this level, and despite the bony in-between parts, the goods were still good. A and I decided to head home instead of running Brown's in a raft. On the way home, I broke down and bought a new dry suit. The Stholquist that I've had for the last 4 years or so has turned into a bag of water in the last year, despite regular maintenance by the Stholquist factory. I was going to try and hold off a bit longer before buying a new suit, but I was wringing cups and cups of water out of my gear over the weekend, and was generally wet and not very happy. Given the amount of time I spend in cold water, I figured it was worth the investment.


Hoosier Boating

Zach, Jeff, and Elise were in town this weekend.  We got on high water black rock and lower CC on Friday night with flows at about 1,000.  Things were busy, but everything was pretty managable.  We walked Rigo and the narrows, though Alex, who tagged along with us, ran them both.  Mr. Bill has quite a bit of stopping power, but it looks like a strong move through the right-hand lateral brings you through pretty well.  It's a riverwide hole at this point though. 
Black rock boated very smoothly, though the runout becomes long and busy.  Lower was fun, though Elbow got huge and managed to flip me and shove me into a wall.  Rolled up fine though.  Jeff got spit into the same wall.
Saturday and Sunday were spent up on the Poudre.  On Saturday Jeff, Zach, Roy and I all ran the Little South Fork of the Poudre at about 2' on the gauge.  The run was beautiful, and somewhat wilderness-ey.  The beta we had was that there were two gorges that rated about V- at these flows.  We went through one gorge early that was solid class IV, and was a good step up from what we had run so far.  We figured that was the first gorge, since it was noticeably narrower than the run so far, though it was somewhat overrated.  What we thought was the second gorge was busy and pushy, with a big hole that surfed Roy and caused Zach to flip.  It stopped me as well, though I was able to keep moving.  It would have been nice to have gotten a look at everything, but by the time we realized it was getting steep we were out of eddies.  It went well though, and the gorge let up just about where we needed it to.
Things opened up after that, and I figured we were heading for the confluence.  Nope.  Things narrowed down again, and before we knew it we were in another V- gorge, with a few big-ish moves and big holes.  It had a couple of convenient eddies about halfway down on both sides of an intimidating log drop.  Everything went smoothly though.  Overall, it was a fun run and a nice change of pace from the roadside stuff I've been doing lately.
Sunday was Stevens Down on the Poudre in playboats, at about 5' on the gauge rock.  It was my first time in the kingpin in big water for a long time.  I got pushed around quite a bit, and spent most of the run trying to stay balanced over my boat and avoid the biggest of the holes.  We walked Pineview Falls, which had a pair of big laterals in the middle of it guarding a big hole.  I was flipped in cardiac corner, but rolled up in the boily business at the bottom.  It was a run that was very good for my boating, but I think I would have had more fun (and definitely been more relaxed) in a creekboat.


Black Rock, Big Day on the Big T

Made it out to Black Rock on Friday, flows were in the low 600s.  Everything was fun, and starting to get a little pushy.  The laterals and boils are starting to show up at these flows.  Lines went pretty well, though I ran too close to center on Mr. Bill and plugged it pretty hard.  I was able to paddle away, but next time I'll be further right.  I was used to worrying about getting deflected from the rock shelf on the right, but at these flows and up it's really not an issue.  I walked Rigo, though it looked like it was fairly forgiving.  Nevertheless, I may be done with Rigo for the next month or so as flows continue to rise.

Yesterday (Saturday) Roy, Bridger and I went to go check out SSV.  It was runnable, but awfully bony.  After some debate, we decided to head to the Big Thompson instead, which had healthy flows of about 650 coming out of Lake Estes, with some additional feeders.  It was getting pretty pushy, with big waves and holes in a fairly small riverbed.  We got to the big drop in the middle of the run, usually class IV+ at regular flows but it was pushing V- or V at these flows.  I had a good line through the entrance and the meat of the rapid, but near the end of the first pitch the nose of my boat was deflected by a lateral and caught on a rock.  I was hoping that it would just spin me backwards, but the rock was too close to shore and as I started to spin, my stern was caught by another rock and the force of the water pinned me horizontally.  My head was underwater, and I felt the boat lock down onto the rocks, so I didn't waste much time waiting for it to dislodge.  I swam, and fast, for shore.  Roy was in the process of getting out of his boat since he saw me pin.  I managed to self-rescue, getting a little banged up on the rocks and swallowing some water, but was otherwise all right.  My boat pined a little ways downstream, and Bridger was able to fish my paddle out of the water. 

The excitement wasn't over yet; below the dam Roy misread a set of holes and got flipped, and then was shoved up against the bank.  He swam, and Bridger and I chased his boat for a looong ways.  About halfway through the chase I realized that I had forgot to put in my drain plug after we portaged the dam, so it was a bit of a race against the clock to try and retrieve his boat before mine filled up with water.  We managed to get it done though.  In all, the casualties for the day were Roy's sponge and my throw rope. 


Black Rock, Big T

Got out on Black Rock at 350 on Sunday, Big T at 500 or so on Monday.  Black Rock went pretty smoothly; the extra 100 cfs smoothed everything out, and everyone had pretty good lines.  Rigo even went smoothly for me, which was nice.  The Big T was a lot of fun, as usual.  It was well-padded, and while there were some big stompy holes hiding here and there, you could skirt or punch everything.  Kevin had a bit of roll practice, and Roy's boat was stuck under a rock for a little bit, but everything ended well.  The wind in the canyon was near biblical; at some points the spray that was blowing off of the tops of the waves made it tough to see downstream.  Fortunately, the wind was with us and not against us.