Thursday, June 26, 2008

Awesome High Water Days on Oh Be Joyful

Oh Be Joyful is one of the classics of Colorado and there has been a race on this run for a fair number of years. A straight downstream race from just above the 15 footer to the bottom of the big slides. The first race Clay beat me by a second or so...dammit. This time I wasn't racing but I did get to paddle with everyone and set up some good racing and expose folks to a new form of racing that we call Giant Slalom. Its like slalom except we race over pretty big rapids. This year we have had a race on Brush Creek, The Little White Salmon, The North Fork of the Payette, and now Oh Be Joyful, with a future race on the Green and then a national championships again on the Green but this time rumour has it the organizers are trying to get 200% flow for the finals. That will be cool.

Thanks to Trevor Clark for this cool evening shot at the 15 footer

Oh Be was definitely higher than I had done it. We were dealing with pretty big holes on a run that I can't remember ever worrying about holes on. When we first walked up it was a little intimidating but we knew it pretty well so we felt pretty comfortable getting on. The main thing I noticed was how fast we were moving. We put in up just below Ankle Breaker and before I knew it we were down in the meat of it. Not that OBJ is a long run, we did hike up about a mile maybe, but there is a fair bit of gradient packed into that short run. I took a good hit in the 15 footer the first day just a reminder that a good line can still cause problems. I stomped the drop but forgot to pay attention to my paddle and nearly popped my teeth threw my lip. I was stoked with my line but everyone was looking at me funny and a little big eyed as I spit blood for a minute. To say the least the paddle was well to the side on all the big drops the rest of the weekend.

The Normal Big Slide Finish

We had a great groups out on the river and in the evenings with the melt peaking usually after 5 pm the water was a good 8-10 inches higher than in the morning. The high flow was great for the normal run but it also added a couple drops below the normal take out that get pretty manky at lower flows. I know one of them is called Ass Breaker or something like that. What is it with this valley and the rapid names? Ankle Breaker, Face Ripper, Ass Breaker, I think there were actually more names like that but I can't come up with them right now. How about we call some things Fluffy Bunny and Twilight.

Big Slide Below Normal Take Out, with Big Hole

Travis Styling the Giant Slalom

The Giant Slalom turned out to be a favorite with the racers. The course was set up so there were hard committing moves. It started with a couple tricky small moves into eddies and then opened up with a big move off the falls where you had to stay left but then make a gate on the right side of the river. Clay found a submercible line and Andrew boofed the hell out of it. Both of them taking top spots in both the Down river and Giant Slalom. It was awesome to watch. I think next year someone else will be keeping time and setting the course I am ready to race.

The Gate on the Falls

The Gate Below the Falls

Gongrats on the Win Andrew

The race turned out to be a huge success. Folks had a great time. The water was high and the sky was blue. And the ranger didn't like that we were doing this without a permit so I get to go visit our friends at the BLM again in Gunnison County for a required court date. The fun never ends. The 4 days we spent camping at the base of OBJ were spectacular, can't wait to get back again.

More photos below in the slideshow.

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