IK buddies, in CO or southwest, in April? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-02-2018   #1
antigua, guatemala
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 9
IK buddies, in CO or southwest, in April?

My wife and I would like to do a little tandem IK'ing on easy rivers (hopefully multidays too) this coming April, somewhere in the Southwest. I have done a lot of hardshell kayaking, but almost no IK'ing, and my wife has done only a little. We are 51/52 years old. Any pointers to finding paddling buddies, facebook groups, etc, would be appreciated.


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Old 01-03-2018   #2
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,833
The Arkansas River in Central Colorado has a wide variety of styles of whitewater (as well as more mellow runs) but April is a bit early in the season. Generally speaking it normally snows until early May in the mountains and the runoff doesn't get going until around Memorial Day at the end of the month.

Buena Vista has a Facebook group called BV Paddlers with some very helpful folks on it.


The weather so far this winter has been extremely dry in the Southwest US. There is still time for conditions to improve and if the situation changes you might want to look at Central Arizona (Verde, Salt, Gila) or North Central New Mexico (Rio Grande, Rio Chama). Arizona tends to flow from late February to April and New Mexico has water in April, May and June (when there is snow).

Utah is another place with potential options. Quite dry there too this season, but the Colorado and Green Rivers run through the state and always have water. You might enjoy a mellow multi-day float on Stillwater Canyon of the Green or Meander Canyon on the Colorado.... or maybe Ruby-Horsethief Canyons of the Colorado on the CO/UT state line?....
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Old 01-03-2018   #3
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Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 517
You might find gear + 2 overwhelms most boats, but self-support IKing is a great way to see rivers. You might want 2 boats though.

I've been pretty impressed with the tandem outfitter as a gear hauler that still paddles better than the narrower tandem lynxes or strikes. But I've never tried to put 2 + gear in one.

a single IK, with 1 person and gear, is going to boat a lot more responsibe though. I prefer burly drybags, watershed or drysuit zippered, rather than roll top. Keep your load tight and low.

The IK is a couch, cot, table, hammock, etc ....

I'd consider the upper san juan to mexican hat a good first overnighter, it's short enough you could even day trip it in light boats, then come back with gear.

SW has some real gems. The Gila through the Mazatzal wilderness is quite lovely, and the Verde is another commonly run small river. You can IK the Salt at silly low flows and have it to yourself. (Watch out for Black Rock at ELF!) Then there's all the short-season oddball creek stuff, not all of which is hard whitewater, like the Muddy Chute.

Despite a lot of water rated no more than III, though, I'll comment that I've found wilderness rivers in the SW to be a little more demanding than the rating might suggest. Not so much in technical difficulty, but more in terms of river visibility. There is some kind of rush or grass along the Gila, for example, that creates blind, deep, fast channels. Wood is less rare than you'd think on desert rivers and would be quite dangerous in some of those spots.

Just be aware when on things that are not often rafted that you might face creeking conditions of blind wood, portages, sieved-out drops, etc.

I've got some boating family in the area, drop me a PM if you'd like contact info.
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Old 01-03-2018   #4
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,845
I have an Outfitter 1, liked it so much I just opted for a Outfitter 2 just to carry more gear for multi days.

As mentioned, the San Juan from Bluff down to Mexican Hat is the perfect first timer trip for you guys. Normal early season runs on San Juan are decent weather. Highly recommended. If that section goes well you can move on to the lower section. Lower section is a bit longer (still mellow boating) but scenic to the max. Bluff is a neat little town. No groceries in Bluff except for one convenience store with snack type items. Stock up well before you get to Bluff. Eat at Twin Bluffs for good all around food or Cottonwood for steaks. Kokopelli Inn Motel in Bluff is a great clean reasonable priced motel for a before or after float stay or you can camp there in the put in area just a mile or so south of Bluff.

Again as mentioned, I support the two boat setup for you and your wife. With your prior experience you should be in a Outfitter 2 and be the main load carrier. Put your wife in a Outfitter 1 and have her carry a gear bag or so much lighter load. This combo will allow you to carry plenty of gear for a comfortable float.

I have a Thrillchaser IK for the sport runs. Got the Outfitters for more stable comfy rides. There is a ton of IK options out there. For me the Quality Construction of Aire products and the stable but responsible (IK's do not respond like a hard shell kayak does) makes for the ideal IK experience.

Also the ARK in Salida CO has just about any thing you want on a Boating River. Mild to Wild and all are runs are scenic and easy to set up shuttle. Salida and BV both are well stocked with great food and motels or camp sites out the yeng yang. Highly recommended when the cold weather abates and it gets warm enough on the river to get splashed which happens quite often when using a IK. If your wife has not been to the Salida area, she will like the shopping plus lots of off the river attractions to see on a day off from river running.
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Old 02-06-2018   #5
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