[Sorry for the hiatus for a few weeks, we’ve been winterizing and moving into a place for the winter. Allison will probably post something about our winter plans in the next day or so but I had this post ready to go so it goes first. Hope you like reading about whitewater?]
I love whitewater kayaking. I’ve been running whitewater for almost 10 years and I’ve been a certified kayak instructor for about 4 years. While I’ve run a number of class V rapids (including some awesome waterfalls), I’ve dialed it back some in the past few years and usually love to spend my time on class III/IV doing the hardest moves I can find. Even still, I almost always try to go kayaking with a group for safety.
For the RV trip, I had to be a little creative as I didn’t have a boating partner with me. Allison used to be a solid whitewater kayaker but has effectively hung up her paddle so that she can prioritize running and yoga (which she’s awesome at) so I was either going to be on my own or need to find partners along the way.
In any event, I ended up kayaking a fair bit this year and it was really interesting to do new runs almost every single time I was out. Now that winter is coming, the whitewater season is coming to a close but below are trip reports from all the runs I did this year with info about meeting boaters and other sections in the area I’d like to go back and do.
I got to safety boat while my friend Paul Duffy guided a raft down. It’s a Class III run through a very pretty canyon. It was only my second time down the most rafted section of river in Colorado despite living in Colorado for 5 years!
When we got to Jackson, WY, we went into Rendezvous River Sports in town to ask about people to paddle with. Turned out we happened to be there the weekend of the Wyoming Whitewater Championships hosted by the Jackson Hole Whitewater Club. Timing issues meant that I could only compete in the downriver race in longboat but I ended up taking 3rd place overall (and the top 2 people both puked at the finish line so I like to think I took “first place of people who didn’t puke” 🙂 )
We stayed in Gardiner, MT just outside of Yellowstone National Park for about 10 days and I got to do the Yellowstone river through town. I stopped by two of the outfitters in town who gave me some beta on the “Mellowstone.” I ended up going solo on the easier section, the “town run,” and just hitching a ride but the Yankee Jim Canyon section downstream also looked pretty cool.
When we were in West Glacier, we ran up to Big Sky, MT for an evening, we found out that the Gallatin Whitewater Festival was going to happen a couple weeks later so I made it a priority to stop by for the event. There were three events and $20 got me entered in all three. There was a downriver sprint (I took 4th in the longboat division), a boatercross event (I had a blast but wasn’t in the top 10) and a slalom event (where I tied for 10th in the short boat division). The event description and results are here.
We accidentally set up shop right next to the put in for this when we camped at the Lolo National Forest and I ended up getting three runs on it. Two of the runs I just showed up at the put-in for but I also used the Missoula Paddlers Facebook group for the third. The run was beautiful, simple, with some amazing surfing in the second half.
We rented a raft and did this run as part of Nik and Allison’s Summer Fun Camp with my family. Beautiful class I/II with some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen.
Right before we moved on to Whitefish, MT, I did one more run on the hardest section of the Flathead. It was about seven miles long and had two or three class III rapids and a whole bunch of class II rapids in the second half so I took the longboat. Really enjoyed a number of great attainment spots.
I really wanted to get on one of the main sections of the Kickinghorse but it gets up to solid class III/IV so I ended up just doing about 5 miles with a bike shuttle right next to our site. I never found a good way to meet people up here unfortunately but I’d love to come back at the exact time of year.
Allison wrote up a blog post about our day sea kayaking and other adventures we had in Olympic National Park.
One of the best sections of the trip. I met some people on the PDX Kayaker facebook group and got to run this awesome III/IV section. The best part was Husum Falls at the end which is a kinda busy ten foot waterfall that is fairly safe that we got to run a couple laps on. It was low when we were there but still totally fine and I had a great day.
The Bend Whitewater facebook group wasn’t very active when I was there (their season is late fall through spring when lots of rain and snow comes) so I ended up just going to the pretty great whitewater park in town for an after work session where I met a few people who invited me along for a trip on the Umpqua that weekend.
The North Umpqua was a fairly mellow section with an easy shuttle and some fun attaining. I took the Mirage and got made fun of the normal amount for my 13 foot long boat 🙂 We also drove right by Crater Lake National Park on our way to this river and decided to take a look on our way home.
So Boise started off surprisingly difficult to meet people at. I stopped by the local shop, turns out they basically sell SUPs and some kayak parts. I went to the play park, which was a cool man made feature with some baffles to make it adjustable and the guy there said, “just drive up to the takeout in the town of Banks.” That’s tough because “just show up and you’ll meet people” makes lots of people (understandably) uncomfortable because they won’t have any idea what I can do and if I’ll be safe on their trip. That all said, it worked out great and “just show up” seems to be decent advice all year round and all the boaters I met were great.
This was one of the most fun sections of whitewater I got to do on the trip. It’s about seven miles of class III/IV and at the low water we got it at, it’s an eddy catcher’s dream. There are about 3 or 4 true class IVs at this water level and a bit of flat stuff in the middle but it was just a ball the whole way. The group I went with was on their second lap of the day and fourth lap of the weekend. Boise would be a great paddling destination year round!
When we were in Denver at the end of the season, a crew was heading up after work to Foxton (which I have done dozens of times) and we ran three laps of the Boulder Garden (about 1 mile of class III+ at low water). I took the Mirage again and had a ball.
Now that we’re up in Winter Park, CO for the winter, I really wanted to get one more time on Gore Canyon before calling it for the winter (though “calling it” really means going to pool sessions and teaching rolls). A group was heading up there the weekend before we moved into the place and the weather looked great for mid November so I hopped on. It was only about 530 cfs but I had a ton of fun and ran the meat at Gore Rapid for the first time (see the featured image). I also had one of the few clean lines at Tunnel Rapid (see above) which made it my first no walk/dry hair day at Gore. A very fitting way to end the season 🙂