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Old 03-08-2007   #1
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Denver, Colorado
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New Guy Introduction and Creeking Questions

Hi all. I'll be moving to CO Springs for the summer, rolling in around May 14. I have that week off, and won't be starting work until the 21st, so if anyone would like to do some paddling that week (especially creeking), please get in touch with me. As a bit of an intro, I've been paddling for 2.5 years, starting off in MN but then paddling in AK, NZ, and now the Southeast since I'm in Indiana going to law school at Notre Dame. I like playboating, but would rather creek than playboat any day. I really like tight, technical creeks with a few big drops thrown in for good measure. Most of my creeking experience comes from NZ and the N. Shore of Lake Superior (favorite runs: the Cascade and the Baptism).

A few questions:

When do the CO creeks start running? I feel like I'll be getting there around prime time, but I'm not really sure.

Any suggestions as to runs to start out with (aside from the numbers, that's already on the list). I really like IV boulder gardens, and the ideal run would be boat-scoutable class IV with a few V's in the mix that can be portaged if need-be.

Er... anybody want to boat with me? I've started talking with some people at the Pike's Peak WW Club in the Springs, but I'd really like to hit the ground running (or paddling, as it were) especially since I have that first week to boat before I have to start working.

I think that's about it for now; thanks in advance.

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Old 03-08-2007   #2
Golden, Colorado
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mid May is early season for Colorado. Mid June is probably closer to prime time, but there will be plenty running in mid May. Maybe New Mexico would be running then? In mid May I think you will be looking for the spots in the warmer areas and at lower elevations.

I would watch the gauges for Bear Creek (near Morrison), Clear Creek (near Golden) and South Saint Vrain (near Lyons). All of that stuff is around Denver, not Colorado Springs. I'll bet that the Black Rock run on Clear Creek will be at good levels for first timers in mid May unless we get a huge spring blizzard (in which case it could be booming). I've only paddled near Colo. Springs once several years ago: 11 mile canyon. I don't think it runs very much.

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Old 03-08-2007   #3
Ozark Mountains, Arkansas
Join Date: Feb 2007
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I get vacation time in between classes in july.. last year i hit up the east coast, this year i want western stuff.. where in mid july? what runs?

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Old 03-09-2007   #4
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Durango, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
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Consistent runnoff starts first of May. Notoriously fickle CO weather can bring cold storms and snow to the high country any day of the year and drop river levels. Or hot dry weather can melt the snowpack "all at once" and bring high water. Dams and diversions moderate and modify streamflow on lots of drainages like Ark, Gunny, CO, CLP (Poudre), S. Platte and they run into or all summer. Native flow drainages can be done by mid June: Encampment, Piedra, Dolores, Front range stuff(Clear Creek, etc.); others last usually past the Forth of July like the Animas. So, be somewhat flexable. If you will be a weekend warrior, then plan to travel to other parts of the area when you have a long weekend at the appropriate time.

When is that? Watch flows and weather. There are lots of boaters in CO, you wil be able to hook up with folks when time gets closer. Have fun, Leroy.
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Old 03-09-2007   #5
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Grape Creek

Try Grape Creek,it is in Canon City, Co about 45 min from Colorado Springs, it does have a small window so keep up with the flows, it is a class V- run with a partage
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Old 03-09-2007   #6
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Denver, Colorado
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Not driving 8 hours for whitewater is going to be wonderful.
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Old 03-09-2007   #7
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Golden, Colorado
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I'm not sure I'd recommend Grape Creek that much. 7 miles of scrapey II and 100 yards of mank. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but there had better be nothing else running in a 5 hour radius for me to want to go back there. Plus it rarely runs.

You might be a couple of weeks late for the Escalante (near Grand Junction), but you never can tell how cold the Spring will be- it might run later. No gauge, but that doesn't matter because everyone will be talking about it on the Buzz. The upper canyon would suit your description- IVish with some portageable drops. If you're feeling good you can drop into the lower gorge.

Just introduce yourself to paddlers at the put-in for an 'easier' creek, show you're a competent / self-sufficient boater in and those folks will probably be the people you end up paddling with most of the summer. Not that CO folks are snobs, but nobody wants to find out in the middle of a box gorge that 'the new guy' is a liability. Safety first, of course- but it sounds like you're plenty experienced for most of the runs you would attempt. (we've all had a story about how some dude showed up & caused everyone stress b/c they couldn't handle the run)

You're pretty close to Taos from Co Springs (4 hours), and those creeks will be going in May. You'll meet Colorado boaters down there every weekend while it's running. You're not too far from Crested Butte and within a reasonable drive to Durango. Look for evening runs on the Source above Boulder in May and June. It'll be a good summer for you. Just keep an eye on this Forum and go where the action is.
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Old 03-09-2007   #8
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Denver, Colorado
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yo craven,

i live in the springs and will probably have a couple days off in there if you wanna' hit somethin' up. It'll still be early, but there'll be something running within an hour or two. feel free to email me.

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Old 03-10-2007   #9
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El Flaco,

Thanks for the advice. I figured I'd have to show my chops a bit on an easier creek; my first spring creeking I hooked up with a group of paddlers I didn't know and ran the Manitou, class IV with three mandatory portages. There was definately one kid who tied in with the group (fortunately not me) who was way over his head. Swam 3 times, eventually ended up losing his paddle and had to hike out. Wasn't a roadside run either; I think he had 2 or 3 miles of bushwacking before we picked him up on the road. Fun run though.

ian, email on the way.
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Old 03-10-2007   #10
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Wow, I'm surprised no body suggested bailey. It seemed to fit the description perfectly, Class IV with a few easily portagable 5's thrown in for good measure.

Might be running around then. You can find a good description and info for bailey, and others at That's a great site.

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