Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Upper Death and Barrel Springs

Me at the Entrance of Upper Death- Photo by Ross Mohsenin

After being off the water for almost a week my hands were getting shaky, anxious to get back in the boat. A couple weeks ago during the US team trials some friends and I headed up to Barrel after our heats were over, and during the first rapid, life after death, I came out with a busted nose, broken knuckle, and cut lip. I knew I had to go back and conquer the run, and Upper Death which I had never tried……..so I did.

Some Splash About a Quarter of the Way Down- Photo by Ross Mohsenin
Jake Saxon, Fred Norquist, and I with some friends headed up there on the 15th to run get a good day on some stouts. Upper Death is the first rapid below the dam in Glenwood Canyon and is usually portaged being a class 5+ rapid. You paddle up to the horizon line a little left of center seeing nothing but spray shooting into the air like fireworks. With a right angle you slide by the side of a large pour over hole and head right, then pointed straight and charge. You take off in a matter of seconds down the steep incline and then have to plug a massive hole, and trust fate from there. It's is one of the biggest wholes I have ever plugged and shot me deep, letting me pop up around 30 feet downstream of the hole. After that with, no pool or eddy’s, you drop straight into life after death, a class V with big lateral waves and a few big sticky whole. You enter it from where ever Upper Death decided to put you (or river right if you portaged UD) which for me was far left, and try to get center left to slide between two crashing holes and then charge right to avoid some sticky holes. The next major rapid is Barrel Springs, class V, which is one of the biggest and longest rapids I have ever run. The entrance is three head towering laterals leading to a curler that’s pushes you left into a set of four more curling laterals that push you left, and you need to get right. Keep digging right and pushing your way, and don’t stop till you get there. You then just keep trucking down stream until you ride over a lateral that’s big enough to catch air off and book it left! A massive pour over hole is seconds below you that you need to go around left or right. Just read the river after that and ride out through the amazing Glenwood Canyon, it’s all easy fun after that!
Almost Down and Getting Ready for the Hit- Photo by Ross Mohsenin
This was one of my top three favorite runs I have ever done. Big water creek boating is a feeling like no other, and the rapids on this section of the Colorado are gigantic, making you feel dwarfed even in your creek boat.
After Upper Death and I'm Starting Life After Death- Photo by Ross Mohsenin

Sorry we didn't get any pictures of barrel springs, here's the link though to a sick edit fred made of the Upper Death runs.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back Home in CO

After a hole year of WCKA and not getting to boat back where I learned to take my first strokes, it’s a amazing feeling to come back full circle. Once I got back I called up Fred Norquist and we fired of some good Roaring Fork classics, the Narrows on the Crystal River, and Slaughter House on the Rio Grand. Both are simple class IV runs but must do’s with the right flows if your ever over here!

Mount Sopris in the Roaring Fork Valley

The Narrows….or Gnarrows, is about a mile stretch of river up the Crystal River near Red Stone. About twenty feet wide and a steep gradient makes this section a rollercoaster winding down the road side the whole way. Big lateral waves stacked right on top of each other leading right by munchy holes makes this section around a mile of nonstop whitewater. There is nothing really technical about this run. The line is stay center most of the time, and dodge obvious holes that randomly pop up. At lower flows there is a hot spring by the put in which is great to check out. When we ran it we hiked it once to get twice the fun in, but if you just keep going down river you will start on a section of river called Avalanche. It’s a good class II
I cruise run about 7 miles long and has a fun dam you can boof over (it’s a little shallow so get a good boof, or if you do a good freewheel you wont feel a thing!). Unfortunatley we didn't take pictures because its so continuous.

Me on Slaughter House

Slaughter House is by far my favorite kayaking run to do in the Roaring Fork Valley, and not only cause I live close enough to walk to the put in. It’s one of the few runs in Colorado that is made up of nice smooth boulders and has endless possibilities for fun and challenging boulder garden lines. I’m not sure how long of a run it is, but it takes about a hour to get down it. The rapids are classic boulder garden style, allowing you to weave in and out of boulders. You can still paddle more straight forward lines though if you want, similar to what the rafts take. This run is great because by line choice you can make it a easy class III+ and have a relaxed day or paddle hard and choose technical lines and turn it into a class V-. I took my Jefe Grande down it and have play boated it a couple times, either one makes it a good time, but I deffinatley think the creekboat is way more fun cause you can take way more fun and challenging lines. The only rapid that stands out as not a boulder garden is Slaughter House falls, intimidating name, but not as much in person! It’s a 4 foot boof ledge that at all flows you can boof on the left, but at higher flows you have the option to run super close to the right wall and hit a nice boof flake. Get up here while the flows are good!

Fred Boofing over Slaughter House Falls