Last paddle '12 TR
Friday, left work early after a half day. Quick lunch and started out. Crossed the rio just above town and headed up the old railroad grade road. Through the tunnels, by Elephant Rock, the Collegiates and the continental divide to my left, the Davis Face and Buffalo Peaks to my right. The rio, below me on my left, has 250cfs in it and looks almost ice free. Bright sun, mid 40s, driving through the pygmy forrest of Pinion and Juniper and getting fired up for my first run in a month and my last of the year.
Meet Larry at the Miner's Campground takeout and catch up on the families and holidays. He's probably my number one Bro in my inner circle of paddling friends. Paddle more with him than anyone else. At my prodding, he's agreed to pull the gear back out and paddle during his ski, skate and kite season. Love the friendship that can come from sharing a passion for the rio and adventuring. Drive up to #4 putin, scouting for ice as we go, and we are amazed at how open the rio is. The 200cfs from the Twin Lakes Reservoir is warm enough to keep it open even with some sub zero nights already.
Stretch and warm up in the completely open putin pool and we're off. The long canalish leadin to #4 is filled in and the gotcha indicator rocks are covered. I catch an eddy to remind my body what that feels like and then were flowing through the boulder garden looking for the entrance to the crux drop that always gets my attention. A little more right kick than lower flows and were threading the needle in the runout. The rio bends right and we're in the section we've dubbed "Boogie Wonderland". A half mile? between #4 and #5 of big sculpted granite boulders and just plain fun moves. I've ELFed this run as low as 120ish and now at 250 some of my fave ELFing rocks are covered. The Goose Rock's bill is just touching the water, The Chalice is gone. The book calls 250 low water and we decide its right. 250 is no longer ELFing, or if it is its mighty phat.
We eddy left above #5, completely ice free in a spot that tends to ice first, and the sun is perfectly downstream. Completely blinded we paddle for the lip of the crux of the whole run. Down the chute and even with 250 we both get bounced around with skipping, moving broaches in the mank. Paddle the beautiful slalomish line through the juicy runout and we're eddied out and once again relieved to be below 5 upright and adrenalised. More boofs and boogie and through the fun, blind, Powerline slot. We stop under the Pumphouse rock head and renew our recreational enhancement.
The next mile or so is relaxed boogie, some floating, saw the only ice bridge of the day in here but it was on a secondary low water line and out of play. We enter "False 6" and the 14er Colombia comes into full magnificent view. Eddy right, above #6, and Larry follows me down "Phil's line" hard against the left shore and riding the big pillow back into the center. We get right to catch a couple nice slots/boofs and then drive across the dynamic pool above the last boof. 6 is one of the sweetest low water rapids in the Numbers. Down through the runout, by some of the nicest sculpted rocks, a zone that is really intimidating when the ice is heavy but we're cruising in high desert paradise today.
The rio bends right, we catch the big boof on the left and the Big Rock in the center of #7 comes into view. Some of the nicest, creekyist slots/drops are in this section. We're really fluid with 250 and the gotcha rocks are out of play. The right entrance is open but I get left so I can run my ferry line above the 7 rock and plant my fave stroke of the run, a duffek to carry me into the shoreline right slot, and down into a couple more perfect slot/drops where the sun always seems to show the water and the rio bottom at its best. We paddle the runout like kids and line up the last drop, Devil's Claw. The huge Ponderosa Pine at the takeout comes into view and we wonder aloud again about how lucky we are to have such a quality year round run in our back yard.
Happy New Year!