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Old 02-24-2011   #1
NathanH.'s Avatar
N/A, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 325
Advice for the 2nd Year

I know that I can probably search a lot of the questions I have but I figure it's February and the majority of boaters have some time on there hands. Anyways I'll give a little background on my 1st season of boating and ask my questions. I started boating last season around the end of June. I ran almost everything on the Ark as that is the drainage I live in but spent the majority of my days on the Numbers and in the Royal Gorge. Toward the end of the season I decided I would head up to Bailey Fest and see how I faired when trying to step up my game. Bailey didn't go badly but I was at an uncomfortable skill/difficulty ratio. So my questions are:

1) What's a good progression for class five boating in Colorado?
I typically hear Pine Creak, Bailey, Gore... is there a different variation to that? I would prefer running technical tight move over river-wide sticky holes...

2)Is there a run that is in between the difficulty of Bailey and the difficulty of the Numbers that I should spend some time on? Try and think proximate to Canon City...

3) As I am entering my 2nd season after a considerable break in the winter from boating, should I expect some loss of skill or maybe a warm up run down the Gorge and I have most my skill set back? (Will just keep me from getting frustrated if I know it may take a bit)

Don't rip on me too hard if you can help it, just looking to get some advice and get some stoke for the upcoming season!

Nathan H.

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Old 02-24-2011   #2
glenn's Avatar
BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
Don't expect your roll to be there if you haven't put the time in the pool this winter. Definitely take it easy for the first run. You will probably feel a little sketchy doing basic stuff, but it comes back quick.

Royal Gorge and Numbers change drastically and if you just started in late June you may not have gotten them with enough water to really justify them as IV stepping stones. Bailey is legit IV with the 3 V's. If the in between stuff felt way harder then you should spend more time right away on IV's with good flow or some harder IVs.

I can't comment too much about the progression of Vs in CO, but I would think about Clear Creek of the Ark.

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Old 02-24-2011   #3
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 302
Check this link:
Stepping Stones - EddyFlower Forum
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Old 02-24-2011   #4
teletumbler's Avatar
Golden Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 185
For your second season, paddle every III and IV run you can get on. Take the hardest lines and punch the biggest holes on the class IIIs and push yourself to hit the line you intended. Then next time plan a harder line.

Pushing the limits without putting in the river miles is a quick way out of this sport, you'll either scare yourself out of it or kill yourself.

You maybe badass, so feel free to ignore me, but I got advice from a 70 year old paddler who has kayaked as long as I have been alive and still does every aspect of this sport better than me. I asked him what it took to be doing this when I was his age and he said:

"Just don't stop, paddle even when you don't want to." and "Don't get hooked on class V"

Spending some days in the pool will help get the rust off, other than that, start early, paddle frequently, have fun and be safe.
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Old 02-24-2011   #5
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
At that time of year the ark sections you ran are mostly class III. Bailey has lots of creeky IV with IV+, V- and V.

A good in-between would be running class IV stuff like lower clear creek, upper clear creek, slaughterhouse etc.

The lowest carnage way to progress is to build your skills on the current difficulty you are comfortable on by trying harder moves. If you want to run class IV, catch the toughest eddy you can find in class III rapid. If you want to run class V, catch multiple eddies in the middle of a class IV rapid. Make difficult ferries, surf waves, take tougher lines.

Also, another big factor in progression is time in the boat or total number of days on the water. If you paddle 100 days in a year, you've got 3 seasons worth of paddling that a person who paddles 33 times a year. If you want to progress, paddle a lot... as much as possible... daily if you can when the water is running.

If you are going to start running harder stuff (class IV and up) and get into creeks you also want to take a good safety class, get good safety gear, and know how to use it. A good stable creekboat will also help make progression easier.

I'd also recommend finding a group of like minded paddlers that you spend some time paddling with. When you try out more difficult runs, you want to be with people you trust, that are safety minded, and have the skills to save your ass if the shit hits the fan.

I wouldn't get too hung up on class V. Focus on the next step and if you get to class V great, if not, no big deal.
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Old 02-24-2011   #6
NathanH.'s Avatar
N/A, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 325
Tele, I respect the opinions I get. If I didn't I wouldn't be asking questions on here.

I have a great group of buddies that I like to go paddling with (minus one lost to Alaska Adventure)

I paddled virtually everyday from the middle of June to into November hitting hand rolls at the Pueblo Play Park. I have also been hitting pool sessions to keep those rolls locked in through the winter.
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Old 02-24-2011   #7
adgeiser's Avatar
Denver,, exhaustion
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 578
i agree. hit up clear creek. when you are comfortable there and can catch the eddies you want.... i think the big T is a nice in between (if you can catch it). just be sure you are ready for it. if you swim there you will have a nice long swim with plenty of rocks. one in our group last year swam father than he paddled....then went home. the rest finished the run did another lap and smiled for a week.

and if you can get up to the poudre.... great river!!! middle narrows would be a good starting point (it runs early)...then lower narrows if you are up to it.

remember new rivers are FUN. and don't put to much pressure on yourself. push but be safe and have fun.
"We should restore the practice of dueling. It might improve manners around here" -Edward Abbey
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Old 02-24-2011   #8
teletumbler's Avatar
Golden Paddling Since: 2005
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Posts: 185
Solid advice DS.

Solid, if up near Golden hit me up. I'm always down for some clear creek.

See you on the river,
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Old 02-25-2011   #9
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
I would agree with pretty much everything you've been told so far Nathan. You stepped it up beyond me a couple of times last season by jumping into Bailey and Alto Alto, but it doesn't sound like you were super comfortable.
I would suggest running more III/IV water this season, but at higher flows and in different drainages.
Try Numbers over 1000 and Browns/Parkdale over 3000 (if it goes that big), definitely hit Clear Creek and the Poudre. You would enjoy Dumont and Lower Clear Creek. Try and catch the Poudre over 3', I would start with Steven's Down and if that goes well step up to Middle and possibly Lower Narrows.

You can come run Slaughterhouse with me, that is definitely on my checklist for this season, and I'm planning to hit Bogan Canyon on the Crystal as well, another IV.

If all that goes well I would suggest hooking up with Jeff F. and Tom D. for some Cauldron park and huck or try your luck on Clear Creek Ark at 250.

Good luck on this upcoming season, I'll stay in touch.
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Old 02-25-2011   #10
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
I wouldn't try anything over IV until IV starts to feel easy and you are catching crazy eddies and taking the hero lines, etc in order to make IV a challenge. Bailey in your first season was pushing too hard.

No first season boater has the skills to reliably put their boat where it needs to be in anything over IV. Horrible lines increase the chance of pins and/or swims. Swimming or getting pinned in anything over IV is super dangerous. Just my opinion: I'd say slow it down and stop thinking about a progression to V because V is about making mistakes that can kill you or a buddy. Give it a few more years.

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