Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Yes it has been quite a while since I last posted anything. The last few months have been quite busy and rather stressful so I haven't had much motivation to add anything to the blog. Since Seneca I'd run a few laps on the Upper/Top Yough, Lower Blackwater, Cheat (including the Cheat race) and got my first run on the Center Lines of Great Falls (I walked Grace as I was running it in my playboat since my Solo had already been shipped off to Colorado, but I will save that for another trip report).

At the end of May Matt, Ed, and I headed out to Colorado for a week and a half of western boating. I ended up paddling a total of 9 days (8 in a row, a record for me). I was determined to get in as much boating as possible in the 11 days we spent in the mountains. But ultimately exhaustion forced me to take some days off.

We started off hoping to catch the Bailey Section of the N. F South Platte. Unfortunately arriving on a Wednesday we were unable to find anyone to shuttle with and with rather frigid conditions (it started to snow) we decided to head to Clear Creek of the Arkansas. Clear Creek is a short but beautiful run with an easily hikeable dirt road shuttle. We arrived around 4pm and stashed camping gear at the takeout (just in case).

The creek was running at low flow but was still a lot of fun and at about 9500 feet elevation, a fair warmup. I'd never paddled much higher than about 4500 feet so this was a considerable adjustment. I found myself getting winded much more easily and each move seemed a lot more sluggish than usual. We put on and boat scouted our way down through each of the three mini gorges. The rapids were tight and a little bony but still very much fun. The scenery was of course absolutely spectacular. Unfortunately with limited eddy space it was too hard to get any pictures. High cliff walls and sharp turns characterized the run. Definitely a very fun creek (though at the low flow we wished we'd taken out after the 2nd gorge to shorten the hike back to the car). We hiked up with a light snow falling, covering the fresh aspen leaves.

Scenery around Clear Creek

For more photos of Clear Creek see here.

The next day we headed toward Minturn and Vail to check out Homestake Creek and Gillman Gorge of the Eagle River (see the Homestake and Gillman TRs). After a day in the Eagle watershed we decided to try to take another stab at Bailey. We camped nearby in the forest by Wellington Lake and got to enjoy some fabulous scenery (and wildlife).

For more photos from Wellington Lake see here.

Unfortunately though both groups we intended to meet up with bailed at the last minute and we were once again left with the dilemma of no shuttle. So rather than risk trying to hitch we decided to save Bailey for yet another day and head north to check out some of the Boulder area creeks.

First on the list was the Source of Boulder Creek, a steep roadside creek with easy shuttle options. We drove high up into the mountains and I was rather impressed by the amount of snowpack still remaining. Unfortunately the creek was not running but we did get to view some more wonderful scenery.

Source of Boulder Creek

For more photos of the Source of Boulder Creek see here.

Next we decided to head farther north and check out South Staint Vrain, another roadside run. We arrived in the beautiful canyon to find a rather manky run with not much water. Though this was becoming a bit frustrating we still had a good time enjoying the scenery of the beautiful gorge on a nice warm day.

South Saint Vrain

For more photos of South Saint Vrain see here.

Finally though we really needed to find something to actually run and decided to head to Clear Creek near Golden. This is a popular roadside run and we were at least guaranteed water there. When we arrived Matt decided to just take the day off in preparation for more runs on Homestake so he ran shuttle while Ed and I paddled. We paddled Lower Clear Creek, a fun fast run. Ed also decided to run Rigor Mortis, the large class V rapid above, while Matt and I set safety. He had a good line, easily avoiding the nasty hole. After a quick run we headed to Denver to meet up with Josh and finally were able to get on Bailey the next day.

Ed running Rigor Mortis

Maggie and Ed setting off on Lower Clear Creek

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