Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
After spending two days in the headwaters of the Crystal River we made our way back to a local cafe in Carbondale to contemplate our next move. While enjoying some breakfast burritos and wireless internet access we called Charlie Mix who was living in Durango for the summer. Charlie explained that water levels were dropping fast and that if we wanted to catch Vallecito, we should come quickly. Vallecito had been high our hit list in 2008 and was again for 2009 too, but so far we had yet to catch it on either trip. Vallecito has been described by many as “the best mile of creeking in Colorado”. With that in mind, we loaded up and hit the road arriving with enough daylight to meet Cruise Quenelle for a run.
In my opinion Vallecito is one of those rare rivers that lives up to the hype that surrounds it. It is truly beautiful creek in a tight gorge with smooth boulders and a seemingly endless number of fun rapids and boofs. We followed Cruise’s lead, rarely slowing down enough to document the run, but emerged from the depths of the gorge with ear to ear smiles that nothing could dampen. We spent that evening at Cruise’s house catching up with the rest of the Alabama boys who were living there for the summer. Late into the night we watched each other’s video footage, sharing all the stories from a summer of running rivers.
Although it was very tempting to stay another day for more laps on Vallecito, the next morning we decided to turn our attention to a different run on our list, the Big South. We left Durango mid morning and made it back to Aspen in time for another run on Castle Creek and the Roaring Fork before finding a beautiful crash and dash spot to sleep for the night. The following day we drove towards Denver and spend that afternoon and the following morning running the Upper and Blackrock sections of Clear Creek before continuing our drive north to the Big South.
The evening we arrived at the Big South take-out, the last group was still hanging around after their run and invited us camp with them that evening for the first of two nights we would spend camping in mosquito hell. The following morning as we drove to the put-in we found another crew of southeasterners camping along the road. We pulled over to greet these friends and ended up catching a ride with them to set shuttle. The put-in for Big South is actually on Weird Creek. We had been told that Weird Creek is actually fun at high water, but what we found was a bang fest that continued to abuse our already heavily used boats. Luckily the flow doubled at the confluence and soon the fun rapids and drops began.
Lot of rapids and a few flat stretches spread throughout the run make Big South a long day by most people’s standards. Including the mileage on Weird Creek it is a twelve-mile run, but very rewarding, especially for groups like ours scouting their way down for the first time. We rotated boat and bank scouting as necessary throughout the day, occasionally getting cues from other groups we caught up to then while they were scouting or portaging. The larger named rapids were certainly fun, but one of the unexpected highlights was how many really fun read and run sections we encountered. A perfect example was what is known as the Prime Time Gorge, a section where the river narrowed between tight cliff walls and containing several rapids in quick succession. Boat scouting our way though this section felt more like Vallecito than the rest of the run on Big South. After reaching the take-out we found another great free campsite along another tributary of Cache la Poudre, Joe Wright Creek.
Joe Wright Creek enters Cache la Poudre above the Spencer Heights section and we decided to spend our last day in the area checking out both runs. We had planned to run Spencer Heights ahead of time, but I have to admit that I had never heard of Joe Wright Creek. I guess that it will always overshadowed by its close proximity to Big South, but it turned out to be a great run in it’s own right. The run is mostly non-stop with very few eddies. It’s the kind of run where it really isn’t practical or necessary to scout and know the lines because all you can really do is follow the water and charge. We knew from talking to other groups that the run was free of wood, but it sill made me nervous charging around blind corners and into the tight gorge known as Carnito Canyon. However, our beta on the wood was correct and we emerged unscathed from what turned out to be our final river day of the trip.
The following day we made our way back to Buena Vista to take care of a few details before departing for Chattanooga. A good meal followed by hot showers at the laundry mat prepared us for the long drive that was ahead of us. The non-stop marathon drive was as brutal as can be expected, but a necessary evil to maximize trips such as this one. That that end, we arrived back in Chattanooga TN after twenty two hours on the road just in time for Matt to start a twelve-hour night shift at his job. I’m sure during that night he might have felt otherwise, but in retrospect… it’s always worth it!
Until Next Time...
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Below Jordan heading into the last drop on 11 Mile Canyon...
He geared up and the rest of us assumed positions at different points of the rapid with ropes and cameras at the ready. Jordan charged the entrance and cleared the first tier of the rapid and then a bounce sent him upside down into the next tier. He rolled up only to be knocked over again and repeated the process a couple more times, but stuck it out and emerged from the bottom of the rapid upright and unhurt.
Below Matt running the last drop of 11 Mile Canyon...
Despite the results of Jordan’s run, Matt had his own line sorted out in his head and was ready to go. Again we set up with ropes and cameras and watched as Matt began his descent. Entering more slowly and slightly further left, Matt proceeded to smoothly descend the entire section without a flip or mis-stroke throughout. After a little more discussion, Joey and I both decided not to attempt a run. We loaded the truck again, got back on the road, and drove over Independence Pass and down into the town of Aspen.
Below we successfully cross the creek that shut us down trying to drive to the North Fork of the Crystal in 2008...
After a quick run of Castle Creek we met up with Anson Fogle for a late afternoon run on the Slaughterhouse section of the Roaring Fork. We spent the evening of relaxing at Anson’s house and he joined us for the next two days of exploring and filming in the upper drainage of the Crystal River. We had attempted to drive into the forks of the Crystal in 2008, but the road to the North Fork was flooded at the time and the road to the South Fork was still snowed in. This failed attempt is one of the reasons we had decided to plan our 2009 trip for July and the plan was working out nicely.
Below Matt and I scout the first drop on the North Fork of the Crystal...
We spent two days we spent rock crawling through the beautiful and remote landscape of the upper crystal river drainage. While our driving to boating ratio was skewed in what I would normally consider the wrong direction, the scenery and quality of the drops made it more than worth it. Despite the slow travel, looking back the two days in the headwaters of the Crystal River were some my favorite on the trip.
Below is a great pic Matt took of me on #2 on the North Fork of the Crystal...
Below Anson films Matt running #3 on the North Fork of the Crystal...
Below are a couple pics I took of Matt on the South Fork of the Crystal...
Below are a couple pics Jordan took of me on the South Fork of the Crystal...
Below is a great pic Joey took of Jordan on Crystal Mill Falls...
Here's a little slow motion action from the Headwaters of the Crystal River...
Until Next Time...
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Charlie Mix entering Terminal Eddy-pic by Ben Bernhard
Daniel Tuck running PinBall-pic by Charlie Mix
Charlie Mix on PinBall-Pic by Ben Bernhard
Tyler Phillips-pic by Charlie Mix
Tyler Phillips on the Bottom Drop of Humpty Dumpty-pic by Charlie Mix
Tyler on the classic Humpty Dumpty Boof-pic by Charlie Mix
Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Secret Stash was first run in the mid to late 1990’s, but then was off-limits for over a decade until recent changes opened it back up to paddlers. The Secret Stash isn't much of a secret anymore. The word is out on this one, but I'm still not going to mention it by name. The Secret Stash cannot be run without crossing private land to portage the 90 foot waterfall you see in the video. Access is currently being allowed, but could be hurt by overcrowding or by careless boaters who are unaware of the expectations of acceptable behavior. One of those expectations is to NOT run the first waterfall you see run in this video. This video was shot and edited prior to the new rule asking boaters to portage this waterfall. After much internal debate I decided not to re-edit the video and to leave the shots of the first falls in, so that those who see the video will know what it looks like and know to portage that drop.
Putting back in after portaging the 90 footer. Photo by Mark Travis
Ted midway through one of the portages. Photo by Mark Travis
Ted dropping into the steeps, Photo by Adam Goshorn
Until Next Time...
Friday, August 28, 2009
Allen Creek falls off the east side of Lookout Mountain just over the GA line and Fallingwater Creek is one of the many quality runs that surround Chattanooga, TN. I originally edited this up for LVM an it can be found in the DVD Bonus Features of the LVM #31, which is the Spring Issue of the Season's Series. You can purchase individual issues or subscribe to LVM at http://www.lvmvideo.com/
Enjoy the show...
Until Next Time...
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
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Monday, June 15, 2009
Ah Colorado. The land of Mountains, rivers, bears, and good beers. I got out here a week ago and met up with Bama Boys Danny Flynt, Andy Hobson, and Cruise Quenelle. They've been on a rampage getting goods such as Oh Be Joyful, Lime, Stupid Falls, and high water Yule Creek to name a few. Unfortunately I missed those exploits because of school back home, but I have been able to sample some of the "best mile of creeking" that Colorado has to offer. Valceito that is. It's a little gem about 45 min of where we are living for the summer. It requires a mile hike to the put in, where you drop into a box canyon. Once you're in, there's no way out. Something we're not quite used to back east that adds another dynamic to Class V creeking. There's really no way to scout or portage. Welcome to Durango!
Charlie Mix on the delayed boof-18 foot entrance Falls. pic by Cruise Quenelle
Cruise on the classic "Fuzzy Bunny" pic by Charlie Mix
There is a cave on my right that water is pushing into. That's why it's known as paddle bitch. It can be a bitch to paddle!!!
Andy Hobson Freewheeling the last drop in the canyon. pic by Cruise Quenille
Cruise getting old school on the last drop. pic by Charlie Mix
The Bama Boys boater Crib. It's going to be a good summer.
Until Next Time,