Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Southwestern Colorado Classics Part 1

Box canyons, granite gorges, and huge boulders characterize the rivers of southwest Colorado, making for some great whitewater. Click for hi-res images.

Scouting a steep box canyon on the way to Durango. It contained tight steepness with a couple impressive falls and at least one hideous rapid. Is it runnable?

Watching a rainbow hang over a roadside hundred foot slide that drops off the face.

I spent some time in the Vail area during the Teva games, the highlite of which was running Gore Canyon at just under 3 grand. Big water fun. Click HERE to see a vid of Gore being ran even higher.

Then I hopped down to meet up with Scotty Baker and some other Durango boys and started on the 1st Gorge of Lime Creek - epicness was sure to ensue. This is an awesome run through slot canyons and granite gorges with class IV boogy and 3 class Vs. The crew lived up to their name as "The Clown Posse"... First, the posse was a couple hours late because their buddy got arrested for an old warrant. Then on the way to the put-in Dan got a flat tire on this super rocky old road... Luckily after a couple miles on this heinous road riding on a rim, we made it to a putin. First up was Adrenaline falls - pretty much a crap shoot. Boof or plug a six foot ledge and try to keep a little left angle down a 2 foot wide slot almost 20 ft. tall. Out of 4 of us 2 skirts blew so me and Dan swam. 50/50 is pretty standard on this one. Next major rapid was S-Turn. Dan surfed a hole just above the rapid and rolled up just in time to plug the right side - not where you want to be! After a valiant surf with several window shades he swam S-Turn, a gorged up powerful steep rapid. His boat was long gone. Dragon's Back is the last major drop and went well, and luckily Dan's boat was breached by the takeout. Dan was bruised and battered from having to climb/jump/scramble/swim out of the canyon, but luckily back at his house there was a keg, beer pong, and ladies waiting.

Our next (mis)adventure lay just over an hour south of Durango - the West Fork San Juan. A 3 mile hike in rewards kayakers with a paddle through a thousand+ foot granite gorge down some steep and clean class V. Baker, Steaves, and I hiked in the three miles hoping to be rewarded for our efforts. Upon arriving at the first rapid, Triple Boof Shuffle, we found it to be juicing and rising fast as the afternoon was progressing. A maximum recommended flow is around 500cfs and we were looking at the 800-1000 range with a deep brown water. The river was bankful and flushing very fast. The scarce eddies were lined with willows and any mistake was sure to result in a bad time. We decided our chances weren't very good for keeping our boats if we proceeded so we bushwacked upstream, ferried across, and hiked out the 3 miles. Darn! A wasted day of paddling and over 6 miles of hiking with a 50 pound boat. Good practice for the Los Pinos hiking trip though - more on that later.

With Scotty headed to Cali, I cruised up to Rockwood to meet back up with partner in crime Eli Loper and his friend, another CO native son, Sean Vierling. We set the shuttle in Rockwood and cruised up to Silverton to crash out and put on the next day for our marathon of paddling on the Upper Animas. The Upper A is 25 miles of class IV-IV+ with a couple Vs and is one of the funnest runs I've ever done. Awesome scenery and big water with no flatwater - just big wave trains and hole dodging for miles and miles. Stupid, silly fun. Futalafeu style wave trains for miles - and you can bite off as much of big holes as you want. 6-12 foot waves and holes are commonplace, stupid fun. Pretty much hole/wave dodging and punching for miles and miles. The amazing scenery and snowcapped peaks around every bend in the river made it that much sweeter.

The combination of bedrock and big boulders in the area make for high quality rapids.

Eli doing some bouldering during a safety break.

Eli dwarfed by No Name Rapid, a maw of big water features.

Good scenery abounds at every turn.

Walking the plank.

A fine gentleman named John Ickes gave us a ride in a train car back to our car, saving us over a mile of hiking - nice!

Checking out the Rockwood Box from the train car.

Sean earning our keep and switching the tracks over.

"Dude, we didn't have to hike... High-five!"

Typical SW Colorado scenery.

Ickes is a part-owner of the Olde Schoolhouse which is the best pizza and beer joint in SW Colorado. It's also on the way back to Silverton from Rockwood, so make sure to stop there and check it out.

Full moon risin'.

This is why I love SW Colorado.

While in Silverton, South Mineral Creek is a must hit for any class V creeker. Rumors of crystal clear water, a few slides and drops, and a clean 20 foot waterfall turned out to be all true.

Up around 10,000 ft. there's still quite a bit of snow on the ground.

Dog-friendly park and huck. Look closely for the boater in the picture to see the absolute magnitude of the area.

Scouting the gorge with a big waterfall up the hill.

The boys scouting the exit of the gorge - a twisting drop into a cauldron.

Eli on the 20 footer.

Sean dropping the 20.

Baker with the 20 footer in the background.

Eli slidin' his way down the gorge.

Scotty catchin' some boof after the gorge.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Southwestern Colorado Classics

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Colorado Photos: Homestake Creek Race and Glenwood Springs Play Spot

I rolled into the Vail area in time to get a couple practice runs in the day before the Homestake Creek race - the kickoff event for the Vail Teva Mountain Games. This event is touted as one of the premier grade V creek races in the country and draws some of kayakings best professional athletes.

Homestake Creek.

Pre-race boat lineup.

Christie Glissmeyer coming through the top of the course.

John Grace setup for a dynamic camera angle.

Eric Jackson working his way down the course.

Tao focused.

Tao keeping momentum through a pourover working his way to 1st.

Todd Anderson came in second.

Andrew Holcombe pulled in a close 3rd place.

Eli Loper on Piece of Shit - can you see why it's called that?

P.O.S. is just below the finish line of the race course.


recently made a play park on the Colorado River. There are a variety of waves with potential for almost any move.

There's room for lots of boats here.

Me catching some air time.

Hoping for some raft carnage.

River surfing attempt #1.

River 1. Surfer 0.

Monday, June 2, 2008

More Minnesota photos

Here's some random shots from paddling around Minnesota.
Click photos for hi-res.

Superior Panorama.

Kiffy runs the first falls on the East Fork Beaver with Loren Moulten filming.

Andy hits the boof trigger on waterfall #2 EF Beaver.

The boys below the first two falls on the EF Beaver.

Unrun slide on the Cross River.

Trespassing to scout some drops.

30'er on the Manitou.

Looking down the superior coast from a prime camping spot.

Dogs on Carlton peak.

Looking up the Superior coastline from Palisade Head.

Andy looking very small in the Devil Track canyon with Lake Superior on the horizon.

Kiffy dwarfed by the Devil Track canyon.

Minnesota wolf.

Kiffy on the Two Island.

Nate Herbeck on the same drop.

Cascade classics at high water.

The last one on the Cascade with some serious juice.

The gorge on the Temperance river.

More Temperance.

St. Louis river dam at high water.

Me on Manabezo.

Zimny took a shot to the elbow on the Split Rock.

Me getting ready to take a shot to the shoulder and thereby giving this rapid a name: "Touch Down ToneBone".