Saturday, May 26, 2007

North Fork, South Platte, Bailey

Finally, third times the charm! After meeting up with Josh and Dan in Denver the night before we made it to Bailey. The North Fork of the South Platte is a beautiful, long and classic Colorado run. 10.5 miles of gorgeous scenery and quality rapids make this run very much worth while. We'd expected low flow but Dan assured us that the main rapids would still be plenty fun. It was worth it just for the scenery after all. But to our pleasant surprise we found the level to be a good medium of approximately 400 cfs, couldn't have asked for a better run.

Of course nothing can be simple. After a few logistical snafus (yes forgotten gear CAN be a blessing in disguise!!) we were ready to put on (Dan, so sorry for the near speeding ticket, glad that didn't actually happen).

After floating through a few miles of flatwater (past a pretty amazing river side home) and a few easy class II-III rapids you arrive at the first major drops, the Four Falls. We all got out and scouted First Falls, a straightforward drop but with some consequence. Though the move on the right looks easy enough, all the current on the left slams into the cliff wall. This did not seem like something worth the risk of pitoning and then getting endered into the steep hole below. Ultimately only Matt and Ed chose to run the drop. Both with clean lines.

Matt scouting First Falls

Ed running First Falls

Maggie and Josh below First Falls

The rest of Four Falls proved to be a lot of fun, with much lower consequence than the first drop. After another mile of fantastic, continuous class IV we arrived at the largest rapid of the run, Super Max. Super Max consists of multiple drops, large holes and a nasty undercut in the crux. We all got out to scout. Josh and i set safety while Dan and Matt, followed by Ed ran the rapid. Though they made the necessary moves, the did not make it look easy by any means (sorry guys). After some thought Josh and i chose to simply put in below the undercut and run the final drops (yes yes i know, i have not run Super Max, i have run Tampax!). Even so it was definitely a fun (and beautiful) rapid.

Dan and Matt on Super Max approach

Mat running the Launch Pad, Super Max crux

Maggie on bottom of Super Max

Josh and Maggie

After some more class III-IV rapids the final big drop is Deer Creek Rapid. It consists of a series of a long drops (sticky holes included) and a fun, but hard to get to boof (i was able to make it over to it though, very fun). Everyone got out and scouted and had overall good lines.

Just above Deer Creek Rapid

Maggie running Deer Creek Rapid

Once the big drops are over the river meanders through a few miles of gorgeous scenery. The character of the geology changes a fair bit, adding to the experience. Overall the Bailey section of the NF South Platte was a fantastic run. It was great to finally get to paddle with Josh again as well.

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