Thursday, May 19, 2005

Colorado Trip: Episode 4: Durango

photo by Dunbar Hardy
The guys that took me down the Embudo were like, "hey stuff is starting to run around Durango you should come over for your last two paddling days in Colorado before you have to go back to North Carolina". So I loaded up and started the drive over to Durango.

Oh I totally forgot that I was driving the big truck and when we took off the do the Embudo I hit a rock and blew one the tires in the big Liquidlogic Truck. Its a dually so I was able to limp to Taos after the river run and look around for a place to get the tire fixed. Nobody would work on it. Of course it was after hours what was I supposed to do get the tire fixed when I could have gone boating I don't think so. So there I sat in a tire shop parking lot looking at the rim for the tire. I am thinking if I bang out the rim maybe it will hold air. I grab a big rock and bang it a couple times, nothing. I grab a hammer out of the tool kit, nothing. I am on a mission now so I go to the unmentionable store (walmart) and buy a sledge hammer. Next thing you know I am in the middle of a convenience store parking lot banging the hell out of the rim of my tire. I get a few funny looks but I don't care I have some paddling to do. After about an hour of banging and putting air in the tire I stop and listen and hear nothing. Its Holding Air! I pack up and head for Durango on my own. Yonton did the smart thing and jumped in the car with Katie, and Jenn. Hmmm lets see hang out with sweaty Shane banging on the rim or ride with a couple shall we say attractive young ladies. He was gone in a second.

I was still able to roll into Durango in the morning and the days paddling was planned for the Bottom Box of the Animas River. This section had been done a bunch but hadn't been done a whole lot recently. In the earlier days the put in was higher and there was a horrible portage in the middle. The section was called the unrunnable gorge. The name sort of ran a few folks off for a while. Then recently people started finding new access to the lower part of the run below the big portage and now there is a killer 2+ mile run just 15 minutes from downtown Durango. The acces is tenuous at best so please check in with the locals for the correct trails and such so as to not mess that up for them. Check in at Four Corners Riversports they may be able to help you out or at least point you in the right direction and several of the locals have been on the run this spring so they have it dialed.

The Bottom Box is a very tight vertical walled canyon with classic drops in it. We were in there pretty high. The Animas in town was running around 1800 so up in the canyon it may have been 12 to 13 hundred cfs. In several places the river was only a boat length wide so that volume was very active in that canyon. The rock was beautiful and you felt like you were miles from anywhere yet we knew otherwise. Rumour had it that Robert Redford had a house close to the take out. I figured that would be fun to drop in on him and have a cold one with him.

Anyway back to the river. The canyon feels very committing and if there was anything you didn't want to run in there it would be very hard to get out of some of the canyon but Dunbar had all the lines dialed so it was pretty chill as far as knowing where to go, but the rapids were solid no doubt. The locals were keeping track of the flows that people were going in there and this trip would be the highest anyone had been in there recently. On our trip it would have been fine higher but if something happens rescue would be pretty tough. If you do get out of the gorge it isn't a bad walk back to the road. : )
Anyway the rapids were for the most part very clean but powerful. There was one very swirly rapid that had whirlpools like a big river because the of tight constriction but they let us go on through. The other rapids you can mostly see in the video but they were mostly single move rapids with the exception of a couple of them. The longer rapid that is in the video was desceptively powerful as you can see it handed me a little humility, but it was a great mix of technical, pushy, and spectacular sceneary. This one goes way up on my list. I consider it a very cool place on the earth. Here is the video.
Bottom Box Video Link Click It

After a sweet afternoon run we headed out on the town. Had a great night out with friends, woke up paddled at the corner pocket wave right in town on the Animas river. All of Colorado was going off and about to pop and I had to go home. Oh well I still hit some great stuff. You should all check out Colorado there is some amazing paddling, people, and places.
Well now its back to the office for a bit.
Talk to you soon.

photo by Dunbar Hardy

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