Put-on at Parkdale, 3 JUNE 2008 at 5:00 pm sharp to kayak the Royal Gorge. The flow was 4100 cfs. Good warm weather, water was murky, cool, but not cold. This was a solo trip, so I didn't take any "hero" lines. I was kayaking my playboat: Wavesport EZG50.
Primero: Washed out, but the overhanging rock on river right at the very bottom has an ugly hole in the undercut. Easy to miss, but just don't get too close.
Segundo: Also washed out, but the cliff at the bottom on the right pushes the water into the center of the river, so that calm pool at the bottom is now a termoil of seemlines and fluctuating eddy lines. Those highbraces that you only practices for 2 minutes in the pool this winter? You now get to practice your combat high braces!
Tricero: This one got bigger and longer. Your first big waves. Straight down the center,
There are lots of good big waves before you come to Pumphouse. They will rise and fall. If the bigger ones fall on you as you ride up them, you will flip over backwards. Be ready. It's actually quite fun.
Pumphouse: The top is washed out and is just 3-4 foot waves. Not a rock or hole to be had. The bottom is extended with big waves over five feet.
Lots of waves leading to Sunshine. Not actually surfable. They aren't standing anymore, rising and falling. Kinda like a larger version of dropping a bowling ball in a bath tub. I will call these bowling ball waves.
Sunshine: I chose to scout this one today. It is the only real big hole that you can not avoid and must run, so yeah, I scouted it. Three feet off line is the difference between a clean run, a flip, or big downtime. I ran the top on the left. The easy line is on the right. The center is a moderate double hole that should be skirted. As soon as you get pst that, get center. The bottom is a long tongue leading you into a long arrow shaped hole. The point of the arrow is your target. Both sides are lined with curling waves falling onto your tongue. The right side is a tad less tall, so if you take the bottom impact with a right trajectory, you may fair better than the left. The left side is backed up with 2 or 3 holes, while the ritht side only has 1 good one. Center has a hole behind it too, but it is flushing the best. I flipped here, staying cneter, felt myself clear the 2nd hole while upside down. I rolled after it calmed (relatively) a bit. I was releaved to know I was passed. If you didn't scout, you put-in only 20 minutes ago.
15 feet later I was offically in Grateful Dead: There is no break between Sushine and Grateful Dead anymore. Bowling ball waves. Nothing is standing. It's all ebb and flow, up and down, swirling squirrely water. No break. You must drive your boat through it. If you relax, you catch an edge and flip for no reason. Combat high brace practice ended back at Segundo. This is gametime! It ends as you enter Sledgehammer.
Sledgehammer: stay near the left bank as you enter. There is a meaty hole formed by that big broad flat rock that would normally be skirted on the right. If you take that right line, you may not make it back left and find yourself if one of the biggest holes of the day. You take the top drop on the left, while the whole river to your right is one gi-normous hole. Center yourself in the river after you pass the hole and hang on tight! You now have several HUGE waves without fear of holes until you reach the middle calm. Take a break on river left. Calm yourself knowing that Clarks hole is flushed out. Now panic knowing that the river wide ledgedrop (Rushmore?)40-feet upstream of Clarks hole is now a hole that rivals that big one you just passed on the top drop just 30 seconds ago. Punch the left side, but not too far left or you get mixed up in squirrelly water that will flip you almost as fast as that monster hole (Rushmore?) next to your right paddle blade.
Bird drop, also known as "Hey-diddle-diddle, don't go down the middle": It's gone. Okay, not gone, but the rock is LONG gone, the hole is just
gone. Now it's a big haystack crashing wave above where the hole was and where the hole was is now flushing green into a smaller wave. So now you can rider that beautiful wavetrain without worrying about the nasty hole.
The narrows: The line consisting of staying in the middle is largly intact. The waves are huge, no make that...HUGE! If you fall off one of them to the left, be prepared to bounce off the rocks. And if may take a couple waves before you get back center. More if you roll here as I found out today. You may want to pick and chose which waves to take head-on in the bottom of the Narrows where the river curves slighly left, just before you get to the hanging bridge. Bowling Ball waves. Don't worry if you miss one that looked fun. There are plenty more. As you pass the hanging bridge, it's a big wavetrain.
Punchbowl: Wave to the people filming you if you have time... This huge eddy is now moving very fast, and not exactly flat.
Wallslammer: It's not bad at all. No real holes, no rocks. It's much wider than when you saw it at lower levels. The real action start as you pass the end of the wall where the rapid normally ends. Big waves. Big waves. More big waves. Then Wave trains. More Big Waves. More Wave trains, all the way to Corner Pocket, non-stop. Just don't forget to avoid.......
Boat-Eater Hole: There are a couple monster crashing waves hiding Boat-Eater Hole from your view. You want to stay right here, but there is a diagnal hydrolic trying to thrust you into that 1st big wave. If you take that wave, you might not avoid the 2nd hole that has more of a boil to it and if you pass through that one you get dumped directly into Boat-Eater Hole. Oops. Your bad. Should have stayed right. At this level it is a huge water-barrel. Picture a Grayhound bus window-shading. That's Boat-Eater. On the ligher side, it almost looks like it may washout into a wave with another 1500 cfs.... we'll see.
Corner Pocket: Forget about it. The eddy is still on the right side, but it's not exactly calm in there. Good luck getting back out. That wonderful wave is washed out. The big rock in the center is under an exploding haystack. And the run-out is more extream squirreliness than he run-out from Segundo.
Let the wave trains begin, again. All the way to.....
Lions Head: That big piller in the middle of the river is so much smaller now, but the huge pillow in front of it is ugly, but it does create a couple big shockwaves that you can punch. Oh, and that boofy hole on the right side of the piller? Yeah, it's been destroyed by that piller's lead shockwave. Prepare for takeoff! The next 1/4 mile or more is one long wavetrain. The farther downstream, the bigger the waves. I was able to take a boof-stroke at the top of three of the biggest waves and was airbourn, landing in the trough behind. Get some.
Pipeline ends with a couple decent waves on river-left. You can re-enter the last one from the eddy, but it's a fast moving side-surf to get on it. Good luck.
The long, slow flatwater to Canon City is not long, it's not slow and it's not flat. There are waves at most every curve. That diversion damn that is made from rip-rap and junk cement blocks is now a river-wide flushing wave that you really should attempt to surf. It's friendly and only followed by the only really calm water you've seen since putting on 50 minutes ago.
Look to your right as you pass the mouth of Grape Creek. If it has a good flow, let people know by posting it on Mountainbuzz. Today it wasn't flowing enough to float a boat.
Canon City Wave(s): One hour exactly after I left Parkdale put-in. The top wave resembles many that I avoided several miles upstream. Bust through on the left corner. You can go right-side too, but be aware that the little wall seperating you from that low-head dam on the right is underwater and you may get pulled over. Not a big deal, really, but you miss out on punching the bottom (main event) wave.
The main event now has a pile on it, all the way across, and the wave is tall, green and fast. It's now big enough for back-surfs and spins. Maybe more. I surfed till my arms were tired. Unless you find yourself atop the pile, don't bother paddling. You will be using ruddering, and edging to stay on as you surf. My longest surf was around 10 minutes. This was a solo trip, so I was the only one there. Totally acceptable to be a "hole hog" when you're the only one there.
Keep you head up as you approach 1st street bridge. There is a log broached on the center piller. IF you can't see it, wait a few seconds. It will rise from the depths soon enough, the right end will explode out of the water and crash back down into the wave. Stay at least 10 feet or more away from both sides of the center (only) piller!
These observations were made at 4100 cfs. If the flow is much different, then the features will change. Make your own decisions while on the water whether or not you want to take my lines.
Be safe and SYOTR!