Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Too many people on the creek?


Big South fork of the Cahce le Poudre, Rocky Mountain National Park, kayak, Chris Baer CO
Big South fork of the Cahce le Poudre


Thirteen people on the same creek run is way too many, unless of course there is above par communication and the water level plays graciously in your favor.



Casey Tango getting the action started, Big South, CO, colorado, Chris Baer crack drop
Casey Tango getting the action started

Wes Dewitt and I had been chatting for most of the summer about wanting to get on a couple of the Colorado classics. It was a phone call from Casey Tango that finally got us motivated. We packed the car and drove three and a half hours to paddle a creek in the middle of Rocky Mountain Nation Wilderness. 


You wouldn't have thought we were in the middle of nowhere when we showed up to the camp the evening before the run and bumped into another five buddies. Everyone was fired up about getting on one of the true CO classics the next day. We shared stories of previous descents and a whisky bottle, but it was the talk of more people joining that had me a little unnerved.


Ben Newman getting warmed up in the Big South fork of the Cahce le Poudre, Chris Baer, CO, colorado
Ben Newman getting warmed up in the Big South fork of the Cahce le Poudre


The next morning vehicle after vehicle came screeching into the parking lot and our group started to grow and grow. There was no doubt in my mind that we would have to split up the pack, the problem was how? Yea there were some strong boaters that new the run and could help lead two different packs, but the fact of the matter was that most of us were buddies and didn't want to split up.

Putting on the upper tributary, Weird Creek, the group quickly spread out. The creek is rather bouncy and wood choked, and most of us got pinned a couple times, and a couple new cracks opened up in some of the boats. Eventually we reconvened at Starter Fluid, the first solid rapid. The large posse was launching pretty haphazardly but having clean lines. Quickly we took off paddling down to the next rapid Fantasy Flight. A light scout, and one by one people started charging into this unique pitchfork rapid. There are two different slots entering Fantasy Fight and neither provides a clean entrance. This day the crew was split on what entrance looked better, and both avenues where used to varying degrees of success.


Kyle Johan, making Fantasy Flight's lead in look good... Chris Baer, big south, CO , Colorado
Kyle Johan, making Fantasy Flight's lead in look good...


Kyle Johan, proving that Fantasy Flight isn't that easy, big south, CO, colorado, Chris Baer
Kyle Johan, proving that Fantasy Flight isn't that easy

Caroline Moon is a rowdy class 5 kayaker. Unfortunately female paddlers seem like they get discriminated against on true class 5 runs. As Caroline dropped into Fantasy Flight she produced a super clean line. Looking up, watching the guys grinning and fist-pumping, all previous discriminations were gone. Caroline was a more than solid attribute to the team. We were all rather diverse, converging from all over the United States and with a myriad of paddling backgrounds… we were going to be an awesome team.

Noel Parker alluding the ominous crack, Cool World, Big South, CO, Colorado, Chris Baer
Noel Parker alluding the ominous crack in Cool World
Heading down from Fantasy Flight the river continues its high quality characteristics, with clan boofs, fun slots, and relatively strong hydraulics. The next big rapid is Cool World, where a stiff lead-in smashes into a diagonal six foot deep slot. If you fall the off the pad early, you get destroyed in the frothing six foot pit. Once again, with thirteen people there was a variety of good and marginal lines, but everyone was smiling at the bottom.

Rocky Mountain National Park showing her true potential, Big south, CO, Colorado, Chris Baer
Rocky Mountain National Park showing her true potential

Prime Time Gorge is the next major obstacle, but was a little bit of a letdown with relatively low flows in the creek. Still fun, Prime Time offered up a mix of off angle boofs. The center piece of the run is Double Trouble a manky nine foot ledge that leads directly into a eight foot pour-over that usually creates an immense and inescapable hydraulic. Luckily for a couple of our team members the lower water softened up the hydraulic and it became rather escapable, and... friendly?

Noel Parker squaring up for the second pitch of Double Trouble, Big South, CO, Colorado, Chris Baer
Noel Parker squaring up for the second pitch of Double Trouble

Cruising through a few more rapids we were met by our last challenge; the always ferocious Slide Ways. Everyone's energy level was starting to dwindle, we had paddled 11 miles of class 5, that had created a few cracked boats and bruised egos from a couple precarious swims. Still, a majority of the crew charged into the longest and most technical rapid of the day. A couple more interesting lines and the crew was on the home stretch. We paddled a couple last manky rapids and took a quick walk back to the car avoiding the last marginal rapid. If you are looking for another rowdy rapid, start at the camp ground just upstream of the take out. Walk up a small path river left for a couple hundred yards. This rapid usually has wood in play, but if you manage to spot this gem without wood, and at an appropriate flow, definitely give it a solid scout and a charge.


Josh Oberleas auto-boofing in Slide Ways, CO, Colorado, Chris Baer
Josh Oberleas auto-boofing in Slide Ways
At the end of the day it was high fives and big hugs. Ky Hart, Josh Oberleas, Jordan Sherman, Wes Dewitt, Noel Parker, Greg Grahlmann, Kevin Hoffman, Joe, Casey Tango, Caroline Moon, Kyle Johan, Ben Newman, and myself, thirteen mostly strangers at the beginning of the day, had all found new friends, and enjoyed the always entertaining Big South drainage of the Cahce le Poudre.

plural moose or mooses or meese, rocky mountain national park, CO, Colorado, Chris Baer
plural moose or mooses or meese


another adventure by Chris Baer