Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Coming over Cottonwood Pass, Paddling Daisy Creek and High Water on Slate Creek

After Fibark finished up we got a chance to paddle a couple sections of the Arkansas. We did a big water Pinecreek and Numbers run and then Adriene and I did a marathon day of paddling the Royal Gorge, and then Brown's Canyon all in one day. The water was big and continuous and we were in playboats so I didn't shoot any shots but I was sore the next day.

Highlights of those runs were... At 1 and 1/2 on the Numbers there was a huge wave which was giving up big fun moves but also the random beat down after the move in the pit. On Browns Canyon we had big water as well, in fact the raft companies weren't running trips into the gorge. There were a couple fires in the gorge and while we were paddling down through the narrows the clouds of smoke were getting pretty thick when someone said, "look up", and there was the highest suspension bridge in the world. I had totally forgotten about it.

Anyway back to the trip over the pass. I have done a few paddling trips in Colorado but I haven't ever seen this much snow when it wasn't ski season. Usually there is a little snow in the dark shady spots and a touch here and there as you go over a pass but this year was different.

Cottonwood was spectacular. I can't remember the name of this lake but it was basically the head waters of the Taylor river. This was a spectacular view. Actually I think its called Taylor Lake. We traveled over with Andrew Holcombe with the goal of paddling Daisy Creek.

When we pulled into the Crested Butte valley we were treated to this view. Tons and tons of snow still up on at the end of the valley which meant lots of water in the creeks that CB is known. Once again I had never seen this much snow up in the valley above Oh Be Joyful, Daisy, and the Slate.

Daisy Creek was a hike up which started with a walk across Slate Creek. Which I would have to say was the coldest water that is possible. I am pretty sure the water in Slate Creek was snow only a few hours before we walked through it. It was late in the afternoon so we knew stuff was going to be a little high but it turned out to be a medium level for Daisy. It was super fun and very controllable. The falls turned out taller than it looked from the scout and was a sweet surprise to come up to the horizon line and get that adrenaline pump from falling.

There was another really fun rapid on Daisy called Face Ripper or something like that. This was a really cool one. Nice S turny slide entrance and basically a Gorilla Notch boof. We all looked at it and felt good since it was so similar to the Notch on our home river. The consequences were pretty brutal though. If you didn't make the move you didn't just go direct off Gorilla you got scraped up against a sharp jagged wall.
Thus the face ripper name I assume. Everyone had good lines so all was good.

With the water high and camp just downstream we also decided to run Slate Creek as well and it was way higher than I had ever run it. In fact Chris Menges the local who ran us though Slate said it was higher than he had run it but that he thought it was all good. It was tight and big in the gorge and Wicked Wanda, the final drop on the run, was pumping but good to go.

So our first day in Crested Butte turned out perfect. Nice drive over the pass, and lots of good whitewater.

Here is the slideshow of the whole thing.
There are more photos of the going over Cottonwood Pass and actual paddling on Daisy and Slate Creeks.

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