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Discussion Starter #1
Thinkin about finally making this jump. Just wondering what you ran your first time, did you borrow a creek boat, or did you have your own, what was your skill level at the time, etc.

My first trip will probably be either Willow Creek or Fish Creek (lower) this spring. Have lot's of strong boaters for support and I have been told I have the skills for sure. Been boating for about 5 years - mainly play. I have run Cross a few times. More of a mental hold back that anything.

Any thoughts, advice would be appreciated. - thanks
 

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Before I even got to the bottom of your post... my suggestion was to do willow creek 1st. It's a great run and perfect for the new creeker. I would most definitely try to get your own boat. Creeking can be rather scary and to know your boat is KING.

Unless you are really up for a serious run, I would probably stay away from Fish till you have a couple under your belt. Truth be told fish isn't very creeky, it's more of a fast river run to me. There are such a minimal amount of eddies and the water is cranking at a hell of a clip that failure is usually painful. Ultimately it's not the toughest of runs but as I mentioned failure happens fast and can be painful.

My buddy (who has creeked a bunch) swam it last year at a mid level and his boat was totally destroyed. We couldn't even catch it till safeway and the problem happened along the golf course somewhere. It was a bit scary to see how fast it all went down.

My suggestion is get real comfy on Willow, then maybe step up a bit when you feel up to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Craw - that is pretty much what I was thinkin. I would like to grab a Creek Boat, but I think I want to at least try Willow once first. I have a friend that I can borrow a CFS from that I should fit into fine.

Speaking of Boats - seems like the shorter boat for tighter, more technical runs are the preference for CO - CFS, Huck, Sniper, etc. Is that the general consensus, or do more folks use the larger - Gus, Big Gun, etc style? I know it is personal preference and what not but I am wondering what most prefer.

Thanks again!
 

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I'd say locally that Willow or Lower Fish at a low to mid level would be a good place to start. I "officially" started creekin' last season and my first runs were down Lower Fish. I had done Willow once before, at ~170cfs, and I'd say that the first rapid on Willow is harder than anything on Lower Fish. It's long, tight and continuous, from what I remember.

I helped clean LF last spring so I could really scout it before I ran it. It helped a lot. My first run was super low, ~1.7' or so on the gauge. My friends wouldn't go, they said it's not worth it until it reaches at least 1.9' or 2.0'. They were right, but I got an idea of what is was like and what the lines were. Next I ran it at 2.0' and it was awesome. Next I went at 2.2' and it was even better. The more water, the better it is, to a point. The creek really fills in and those FU rocks start to dissappear. The highest I've run it was 2.7' and man what a rush!

I had run easier "creeky" runs on the Front Range - Lower NSV, Boulder Creek, Waterton - so that helped too, only we were running that stuff in playboats which we were really used to and comfortable in. I'd say get a creeker, you can find older ones pretty cheap and use it for a season, see if you like it - it's a different animal for sure - things happen way fast, then upgrade.
 

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I ran my first creeks last year and I started with the Narrows on the crystal and then Gore. I have the same background as you and decided to run what was comfortable. I picked creeks that had easy portages in case I didn't feel up to a certain drop. I also went with lots of people and we had a great protection set up each time. You are the best judge of your talent.
 

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I just starting creeking last year. If your in the Front Range, Upper Boulder Creek is a good intro that has a fun/challenging rapid at the end that is an easy scout and portage. At lower flows Lower Clear Creek, Upper Clear Creek and the Lawson-Dumont to Idaho Springs sections are good intros. Not real continous. All are pretty much road side and scoutable. Alto-ALto is good humble III+/-IV creeking on South Boulder Creek up in the mountains near Rollinsville. Very remote feel, some access issues and at big water is a screamer (IV), ask the Craw. The water is always cold. I scouted 10 Mile creek (Officers Gulch to Frisco) and looked straight forward but we didn't run it due to the low water. It's definetly a different animal but know I know why people love it so much. :p
 

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bailey was my first creek. great starter, everythings walkable......super fun lines, and fairly safe. Also, one of the most beautiful canyons, other then the burn areas.......Id hit that up bout 300 ish........you can walk anything you dont like, and in between most the rapids, is good boogie water to keep you on your toes......haha
ben
 

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The one that I learned on was Escalante creek. It runs early in the season, it's warm, everything is scoutable, and there are plenty of eddy's to get out, slow down, or swim too. The top half of the run is a great first time "creek" beacuse it actually is a creek. It teaches you the process of creeking, instead of just challenging your skills. Runs like Willow, Fish, and Bailey all feel like small rivers to me.

The bottom half of Escalante is a little more full on. Follow the directions in the book, scout, and go with someone that knows it, as with any creek when you are learning. I did it my first time as well though, so it is simply a comfort level.

Don't confuse class V with Creek class V. Gore is class V, but it isn't a creek, and the way people run it is generally pretty different from a tight technical creek. Decide if you are just trying to run harder water, or if you actually want to run low volume waterfalls. The best way to learn is to go with people that love the tight and steep, know safety procedures, and communication, and will take you under their wing.

my 2 cents...

Kyle McCutchen
 

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Discussion Starter #10
What type of Creeker do you use?

Thanks for all of the feedback - all good thoughts. I am definitely just looking to take it up one notch - probably class IV creeks, nothing too crazy. Mainly so that I can expand my paddling options and run some things later in the season.

So - in regards to Kayak choice. It seems to me that we mainly have lower volume, tight, technical runs - even the "easier" ones. I know it is personal preference, but are most CO peeps out there using the shorter creek boats - CFS, Huck, Sniper, etc or the larger ones - Gus, Big Gun, etc.

I'll probably borrow one for the first time, but would like to keep my eyes open in case I find something I can't pass up.
-A
 

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Fish and Willow

Hey,
My name is Joel and I'm the Wave Sport sales rep in the rockies. I've been with Wave Sport since it's inception pretty much and lived in Staemboat for 13 years. Wilow and fish were a couple of my 1st and favorites and I've run fish hundreds of times.
a few pieces of advice for either creek.
1.) Follow a reliable helmet. Find and experienced boater you trust and stay on his/her butt.
2.) Catch eddies whenver possible. They are few and far between and you need a break to get some rest. Don't leave an eddy until your are rested and psyched.
3.) # 2 is important beacsue being upside dow is difficult in these creeks. It's shallow and you will take hits. Swims are horrible. Best case scenario you will lose you boat for good if not for the day and you will get some good bruises.

Buckle up for safety!
Have fun. Hope to see you up there this spring. I love the Steamboat paddling and the paddlers!

Joel
 

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When does Escalante usually start running? I thought that OBJ at low water levels was a good intro to creekin. It has big drops for beginners, but at low water the eddies aren't hard and the moves aren't too hard. Clear Creek of the Ark is another good one, but it's continuous and can't be scouted very well, so you have to follow someone.
 

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OBJ I've only looked at it but i can't imagine it as a beginning creek nor can i imagine gore (a river not a creek and I made the :shock: mistake of tackling gore as an intro) from someones earlier post
 

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I would agree with Double-A-Ron. OBJ is not an intro/beginner creek. It has big consequences for missed moves. I know a number of people who have broken their backs on OBJ.

I would suggest Bailey as an intro creek. It is mostly class IV and all drops are scoutable/portable.

If you want to creek in CB hit the Upper East first. If you feel comfortable on it then step up to Daisy. If you like Daisy and want to step again hit OBJ.

Just my opinion.

by the way... how do I size down my avatar?
 

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Lose the eye picture.

Hey Alex lose the eye picture or reset the size. It's messing with my computer screen settings. Thanks.
 

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I was mentioning OBJ as a beginners creek, as opposed to river, which is what Bailey and the East are. Beginning creeking is WAY different from being a true beginner, and that's why I'd call OBJ (at low water only) a beginner's creek. IMO don't start any creeking until you're comfortable in Gore/Pine Creek/Bailey.
 

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creekin in the boat

Hey, I was in the situation as you last year, started creeking, after a few years of the yampa. I started in willow. It's easy, but after the first drop you will be grinning in eddies bellow. My buddies and I read the bibble, and then all went on our first creek run. It was a riot, hop out right before the big rock, that funnels the creek, It's nothing to be conserned, but it will flip the unexpected, don't worry the pool under it provides a grouping point, you'll love the fast drop right underneith it. The first drop it fairly straight forward, no huge holes, or rocks to dodge. The creek slows down with a few rapids, but nothing you can't read and run easily. be careful, there is wood in about four differnt spots through the mellow wilderness water, but you can eddie out easily. The next rapid is woopie ridge, you'll be in the middle of it nexpectedly, it's fun, but be onyour toes, and stay up right. The log jam funnels you to the left, edding out may be diffucult, so be ready for the willow shoot, it's mysterious, but make sure someon who has run it before goes first, just go with the flow, and get ito the middle of teh shoot, the willows like to grab you. after the willow shoot your in the clear. before you know it you'll be going under the bridge into the elk. After we did willow we headed for fishcreek. I did it in my big easy, just as I did willow in. It's more of a rush in a play boat! When fish gets cranking you'll want a creek boat, holes will grab you, and you'll be in a rodeo comp before you know it. Grab a boat from pete or berry. Petes nicer, and lets you bum boats more often. I was an aca instructor for him the summer, and I bought his H3. Hopefully he gets more creek demos this year for aspirring creekers. Before you know it you'll be flying off waterfalls on obejoyful. Have fun, If you need someone to show you some creeks around steamboat, I'll be at the hole In my yellow big easy.
 

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my first post

My first time paddling was about 2 years ago...A buddy and I rented some boats and headed up to the pump house, near kremling, for the first time...We probably should have taken some lessons before our first time on that section...Needless to say that i got hooked up paddling...Bought my first bought the next season, but was cut short because of shoulder surgery...Was having a great season last year (for me) until I herniated a disc in my back...Finally had surgery last week, so I'm bed ridden for the next three weeks...Just looking forward to getting healthy enough so i can start playing in the pools soon...
 

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TenMile is a screamer too...

I caught Tenmile (below Copper to Officer's Gulch) at about 900 cfs last year, and that run is deceptively fast at that level. Even hiking up along the creek from the takeout, I though it looked about a IV, but it was super fast- took us less than 10 minutes to go a mile, with maybe 3 micro-eddies during the whole run. A swim would be super-traumatic- it's not only shallow & the flow at maybe 15mph, but the takeout runs out into two 4' diameter culverts. If you ran into a problem above that, it could be fatal- the takeout eddies are tiny. Lower levels would surely make the run easier but the culverts are still there. I heard the section below that into Frisco is more like IV at that level, III at lower levels- that should be a good beginner creeking run.

I agree that a guided run down Bailey below 400 is a good 1st creek- scout/ walk anything. South Boulder, Boulder Creek from the Red Lion down are even more forgiving. Upper East is good to go at low to medium flows- maybe VI-. If you feel dialed on the East, hit the Slate but skip Wicked Wanda.

I think Lime Creek isn't a particularly hard run at low levels. The drops are intimidating, but they all have pools below them. You can also exit the gorge pretty easily if the warm-up section above Adrenaline kicks your ass. This would be more of a testpiece for Steep Creeking, after you've feel comfortable on all the runs above - if you see yourself stepping up to OBJ, Vallecito, Crystal Gorge, then check Lime out. A good 1st time level would be just barely enough water to scrape down at the put-in. Again- very important to go with someone that knows the run. I agree that OBJ can boat easier than it looks, but if you screw up you could wind up hurt on the big falls. Negotiating big falls in tight creeks is a skill that some folks take for granted, especially with modern boats that practically boof themselves.

Another point I'd like to add is that steep creeking moves kayaking from an individual sport into a team sport. You may feel comfortable pushing your own limits beyond your abilities, but remember that your buddies are going to have to put themselves at risk to save your ass if you can't handle it.

Have a safe season- wear a good helmet with a facemask if you don't want to wind up and ugly as Alex.
 

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Is the East really that hard? I've always heard it's easy fives.

As for the main topic, it's hard to start in Colorado, in some ways. I had the good fortune of starting to creek on class III-IV stuff in the SE. I think the best thing you can do is catch every eddy and make every move on stuff below your limit. I did Little River in the Smokies one year, the year I started boating class IV. The following summer, I did Big Creek (heavy IV), then the Nantalhala Cascades (soft V) and then the Green Narrows w/o the big 3 (V). When I got to the Green, I had really only done 2 serious creeks, but it felt easy and I was suprised. The reason was that I worked my butt off on easier rivers. I did slot moves, hairy ferries and caught difficult eddies on class III and IV play runs where the consequences were far less threatening. When I got to a place where there was a ferry above an undercut or a must-make eddy, it was much easier than I had expected.

I think if you can relax in the Numbers and pick apart rapids like #1, you're ready to start in on something like Bailey. Just be aware that (IMHO) many people start to creek too early, before they can really read water 100% and spot hazards on the fly - two skills which most people will use to prevent death or serious injury at least once a season when creeking. The other thing is to know how to be safe - and then do it. Your party is w/o a rope? Forget it. It's YOUR butt on the line. Paddle another day. Not too far back, a great boater died in South America because his buddy, an accomplished, respected and well-known boater, did not have a rope, and only for that reason. Everyone should take something from that.

Creeking really is a team sport. It's true that there are times that you are effectively on your own because no one can help you if you pin in a certain spot, but that's not the rule. When creeking, I let the team decide. If I want to run a drop, but the crew is seriously not cool with that, I'll walk (this has only happened once). When the consequences are severe enough and I really don't feel good about a certain person running a drop, I'll tell them, because if they get messed up, I'm the guy who has to do the rescue (this has happened about twice). The point is that the boater owes an obligation to the rest of the party not to accept a risk that they aren't willing to accept possibly having to deal with. It's really just like the way you would make someone walk Zoom Flume on the Ark, no matter how they protested, if they swam every drop above that. You're the one chasing the yard sale, so they need to consider you a bit. Only in creeking, the consequences can be worse than a yard sale.
 
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