Had a good batch of boating this past weekend. On Thursday, Zach and Joann were in from Indiana on their way out to Washington. We got on Lower Clear Creek and ran it to the dam with some new boating friends. It was fun; lots of bouncy wave trains and a few holes to watch out for. Then most of us saddled up for a run of Black Rock, which went almost without incident, though Zach was starting to look pretty beat after getting just a couple of hours of sleep and then some class V.
On Friday we got up to the Poudre drainage, and got on the Middle Narrows. It was my first time back there since my swim below the first IV+ on the run. The first rapid was busy, and Joann had a couple of rolls. After a little more boogie she decided that she was out; the outfitting in her new boat had shifted around some and she wasn't feeling comfortable in the big water. She walked the 20 or so yards up to the road. Zach and I continued on, dodging big holes and finishing the 2 mile or so run all too quickly. Then we all headed up to Spencer Heights, a class V stretch that is a significant step up from the middle narrows. We put in below Poudre Falls, and had a good time in the tight canyon below the put-in, though Zach pitoned once. Things opened up a little in Cyclotron, and we both had good lines through both that and Boneyard, though the hole at the bottom of Boneyard caused a bit of a problem. Then it was into another small canyon, with a group of fun, pushy, channelized drops between us and daylight. The class II section lulled us to sleep a bit, and we were woken up by the class IV boogie before the take out. It was a great run, and great to run with the Indiana crew again.
On Saturday, Bridger and I scouted The Source of Boulder Creek, an ultra low-water mank fest high above Boulder. We dropped our boats at the put-in and drove down, then hiked and scouted on the way back up. The level was low, even for that stretch of river, with tons of pin potential all over the place. There were a lot of rapids with terrible spots in them, and as we got higher and higher into the canyon it became impossible to remember them all. That, combined with an ugly, bony crux drop, finally convinced us to leave it for another day.
Finally, on Sunday we met up with a couple of guides and ran the South Saint Vrain, probably the hardest run I've ever completed. I've definitely ran more intimidating and more difficult rapids, but never have I had to deal with so much run-on-the-fly class V water. After scouting the river on the way up, I took solace in the fact that the road was a mere 20 yards away. The opening rapid went surprisingly smoothly, and gave me a needed boost of confidence. Though the level was low, things went pretty smoothly for me on the whole, and I was pretty happy with my lines through most of the junk. I had a couple of moments where holes or eddy lines threw me up on my edge, and I had to make a focused effort to not flip and bash my face into rocks. Fortunately, I succeeded.
I did run into problems above the last big ledge hole above the narrows. We boated down a slot that was only a bit wider than a creekboat, and as I was reaching for another paddle stroke, my paddle stuck in the slot and I cruised past it. I grabbed onto a tree on a small island in the center of the current, and watched my paddle get loose and float past me. Then I started slipping from the tree and the eddy. I floated along, trying to claw my way over to the paddle before I reached the 4 foot drop. I didn't make it. I dropped into the hole at an angle and got flipped. Then I took what was perhaps the least consequential swim on the SSV. I swam directly into an eddy, my boat pinned about 10 yards downstream, and I chased my paddle for 40 yards or so until it was caught in a hole and eventually resurfaced in an eddy, where I snatched it. Lucky.
Only one person from our group ran the Big Narrows, a string of 4 or so big drops with little chance to reset. Then we finished some very busy class V or so boogie until we got to 1 in 5, a small, funky waterfall in a tight slot. The name refers to your swim odds. I dropped in as the last of 5 paddlers, all of whom before me had ran it without mishap. I managed to get through as well, flipping in the runout and scuffing a few knuckles, but escaping relatively unscathed.
Posted by Jake at 5:22 PM