day 1: Gorge trip, ice cold, windy, and sore
Given that there wasn't great new snow to entice me up skiing yesterday, my buddy Shane and I decided it was warm enough to boat the Royal Gorge instead. It was a blue sky morning and fairly toasty at the put in. What a great day it was, but boy did we freeze our fingers off. There are no ice bridges, but plenty of ice clinging to rocks in the rapids. Anything getting splashed was icy, including us. Shortly after the put-in until the last mile of the paddle out there is no sun reaching the depths of the Gorge this time of year. Added to it, at midday the wind inevitably seems to kick up and turn the Gorge into a wind tunnel. One thing was obvious to me, that all the aggressive skiing and hiking I've been doing in the mountains meant nothing for my kayaking fitness. Uhg, am I sore. I didn't expect an early season trip to feel so strenuous, but I felt pretty exhausted afterwards. Perhaps it was the wind. Perhaps the cold tight muscles. Definitely the water is pushy at even these early season flows. I was surprised. Not that I wanted to play, but there were many substantial holes and play waves. One caution if anyone is anxious to go soon. The last drop in Sunshine is tight, very sticky, and icy on both sides. It is drawing back from several feet into the hole. Not wanting to potentially spend any time upside down in the freezing water, we opted to portage from just above the lip to just below it. To run it would probably be best by boofing into the small right-side eddy in the LZ. Watch out for all the ice overhanging the right lip and below the eddy, though. As freaking cold and out of practice as we were, the challenge didn't seem worth the possible consequences for day 1 of the year. As it was, it proved to be a beautiful trip and felt like a great work out. Other than feeling like I have caught a cold, I am stoked to do more boating soon. Whenever the skiing is not prime. Here's a toast to the '09 paddling season -- Cheers!
No risk, no reward. It is not that we have to, it is that we get to. Preparation and education are essential to self-confidence and success. - KV
"If there is no risk there is no adventure."- Bill Briggs