Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ice Lakes Creek, CO

Mission: park & huck the burley looking cascade into SMC Campground
Location: South Mineral Creek Campground, CO
Paddlers: Boyd Ruppelt, Adam Goshorn, and Matt Wallace

(Boyd working his way down Ice Lakes Creek. by Samantha Brunner)

After enjoying the high water in Crested Butte, I went down south with Samantha Brunner, Adam Goshorn, and Matt Wallace to find waterfalls and run some of the classic whitewater Colorado has to offer. The first thing we came to was Ice Lakes Creek, pooring into South Mineral Campground. It was getting late, the water was crankin, and we were losing our light for the day, but Matt's itch was contagious and we all decided to run it before setting up camp and cooking dinner. The Ice Lakes Creek cascade is an interesting, powerful series of drops that weren't very forgiving with the high water... but a super cool drop for sure.

(Matt Wallace finishing a strong line minus an epic back ender. by Adam Goshorn)

Matt was so fired up he went first. I held his boat on the tiny launch ledge until he was ready to slide in immediately above the first one. Having decided to follow it on the right, Matt had a great line down but when he hit the big pillow/hole above the last big ledge he was back endered and rolled just above the lip of the last one. I couldn't see him below the first lip so adam came up and told me to go a bit more left on the 3rd ledge... So trusting his last minute changes he held my boat as I climbed in and got set. Before I knew it I was sliding down the sloped bank immediately above the first ledge (hidden in the photos). I wasn't happy with my position above the second one and my contact was a bit out so I eddied out into a small pocket above the first big ledge before lining back up and going for it. I paddled over the pillow of water keeping me off the lip and before I knew it I was flying down the first big one with a big delayed boof to line up for the next one...

(Boyd boofing off the first big one. Photo by Matt Wallace)

Exactly where I wanted to be based on what I had heard from Matt's line, I felt good going into the next drop. The idea was to slide right into the outflow of the hole and off the next drop. To my suprise I slid in sideways losing all my momentum. With a quick roll in the hole, I rolled up grabbing the green water exiting the hole and flowing off the last big ledge and pulled myself off the next lip catching a little rock flake on the way down.

(Boyd rolling up before sliding off the last big one. Photo by Matt Wallace)

It wasn't a bad line but it made me think the first line (far river right) was the way to go... Adam began to gear up and Matt hiked back up to hold his boat. Adam thought we could go even more left (just on the brink of disaster) for a good line.

(Adam setting up for the first big one. by Boyd Ruppelt)

So as he peeled off the first ledge he kept his speed and flew off the first big one too far left, nearly pinning on a tree. Skirting a potentially bad pin and even worse swim, he heroically pulled it back into the main flow but got surfed in the hole above the next one. Ripped down the cascade upside down, Adam kept his cool but got a bit pummeled in the big pillow/hole above the last big one with a not so prefered line:

(Adam with the not so prefered line. by Boyd Ruppelt)

He took it like a champ though and rolled up just in time drop off the last one backwards but upright, making it into the take-out eddy with a shit-eatin' grin like no other. He said amazingly enough he didn't hit much but water on his way down. Now we were ready for Whiskey, dinner, and a camp fire before our next adventure on South Mineral Creek.

(Boyd on Ice Lakes Creek, by Samantha Brunner)

Till next time,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

La Plata Falls, Durango, CO

Mission: La Plata falls, CO
Location: near Durango, CO
Paddlers: Boyd Ruppelt, Adam Goshorn, and Matt Wallace

(Matt scouting "Silver Falls" by Boyd Ruppelt)

Continuing on our trip with Adam Goshorn and Matt Wallace through southern Colorado me and Samantha continued south toward Durango in hopes of replacing our broken video camera and fixing Adam's flat tire. With most of the things on our lists on the way south a bit high for our tastes we decided to check out a seemingly little known drop called La Plata Falls (Spanish for Silver). So with Adam's tire fixed and no new video camera we shot over for a quick afternoon run on La Plata.

(Boyd filming Matt's run... photo by Adam Goshorn)

The thing about this drop that doesn't seem to show up well in photos is that the entire creek converges and banks 90 degrees the moment it drops off the lip. But it banks so hard that it forms a green wall on the river left edge against the slightly overhung wall while completely drying out the riverbed at the lip.

(Boyd dropping in... photo by Samantha Brunner)

Then it crashes on itself, rolling it's way down the slot falls before slaming over a rock shelf and rocketing out into the runnout pool below. To make things more interesting, a sick looking whirlpool/terminal eddy thing forms on the river right and the river left exit was blocked by a huge log with only a tiny stream of water flowing over the far side. We decided to just focus on lining up the lip and riding it out and boofing over the log.

(Matt going first by Boyd Ruppelt)

(Boyd dropping in while Adam films on... shot by Matt Wallace)

(Adam's run as seen by Boyd Ruppelt)

This worked out well for me and Matt, but Adam's line proved a bit more interesting while providing the biggest carnage of the trip...

(Adam finally out of the whirlpool... by Boyd Ruppelt)

(the aftermath... by Boyd Ruppelt)

After watching her fears realized through someone else, Sam decided to wait for another day; I guess two out of 3 isn't bad. If you're ever in the Durango area when all this is running, La Plata Falls isn't a bad stop for a quick fix...

Boyd Ruppelt

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Rarely Run Upper North Fork of Daisy Creek, Crested Butte, CO

MISSION: Silly Slides
LOCATION: Crested Butte, CO
PADDLERS: Boyd Ruppelt, Samantha Brunner, Josh Oberleas

(Boyd Dropping in by Josh Oberleas)

So as belated report from our trip to Colorado, Me and Samantha Brunner had the pleasure of catching a section that is rarely run on the Upper North Fork of Daisy Creek in Crested Butte, CO. Affectionately known as "the Silly Slides" this section rests hidden away from the hustle and bustle and mass-hucking of the other Crested Butte area creeks, usually under snow until it is too low to run. With the seemingly long 4x4 road/walk up Daisy Pass beyond the normal Daisy Creek put-in, most paddlers look up at the beaver dams not realizing what's just up the road.

(beautiful scenery on a beautiful run. Photo of Boyd by Josh Oberleas)

(plenty of fresh drinking water... and if you get thirsty on the run, just take a big gulp)

Curious to see for myself what was in the pass, I took off on a fast hike with Samantha Brunner to find out our first day in Colorado. What we found was a fun looking series of slides and waterfalls just appearing out of the snow with plenty of runnable flow. The only problem was an unportageable (or hard-to-portage) snow plug blocking the exit of the run.

So after our waterfall adventure with Adam Goshorn and Matt Wallace, we met back up with our Gunny turned Chile friend, Josh Oberleas, for some more good times in Crested Butte. Without hesitation, we went right up to the Daisy Creek put-in for a quick check to see if the upper section was open. Sure enough we found good flows, although we all wanted more (never satisfied I know), and a good section was completely clear of snow:

(Samantha charging down below the 3rd drop... photo by Josh Oberleas)

The start was one of the most scenic and interesting put-ins in the area, with a seal launch right off a large snow plug into the river:

(Samantha about to slide in right above the first drop. photo by Boyd Ruppelt)

(Samantha on her way down by Josh Oberleas)

The creek is literally just emerging from the snow as some of the coldest, but cleanest, water I've ever felt!

(Boyd on drop #1 by Samantha Brunner)

(Samantha charging down the first one with the second one in the foreground by Boyd Ruppelt)

From there the creek goes around a bend and immediately off drop number 3, the sketchiest looking slide on the run. It looked a bit boat/back abusive when we were first scouting it, but we found out fast that the clear water made this whole run look lower than it was. This drop was no exception, going a lot smoother than we thought it would and with an awesome boof/90 degree turn combo on the last bit of the drop to avoid the wall.

(Samantha on drop 3 by Boyd)

(Boyd making the last boof/turn move by Samantha Brunner)

We couldn't get over the water quality, scenery, and fun nature of the run... since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's some more pictures:

(Josh Oberleas about to go off another by Boyd Ruppelt)

(Boyd in just his rashguard... ok, it was a bit cold... by Josh Oberleas)

(Samantha loving her Jackson Hero! by Josh Oberleas)

(the view downstream... by Josh Oberleas)

(Boyd carving off the last one... by Josh Oberleas)

(Josh Oberleas threading his way down the last one... by Boyd Ruppelt)

(Samantha threading the needle between flakes on the last one by Boyd Ruppelt)

From the "Silly Slides" we continued on a fast, fun runnout that felt like a cold convayer belt until we got to a weird, short, hedgy section of blind, mid-stream bush-wacking. It doesn't last long and is quicker than getting out. Suddenly we found ourselves in a channel dropping off beaver dam ledge after beaver dam ledge. The current kept picking up and we were amazed to find a beautiful and fun paddle all the way to the big portage at the normal Daisy put-in, never getting out of our boats until then. After the portage we continued our way down Daisy Creek until we finally all flew off Big Wood Falls:

(Samantha on Big Wood Falls by Josh Oberleas)

(Boyd enjoying the Hero's boofing capabilities off Big Wood Falls by Samantha Brunner)

(the view up the road from the normal Daisy put-in by Boyd Ruppelt)

It's amazing it doesn't get run more often. It was worth the effort and a beautiful day that is rarely experienced in an area considered by some to be "over-done"... hopefully this will open some eyes to what might be waiting just around that next corner...

Boyd Ruppelt

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