Below: Source of the SlateRiver, photo by Adam Goshorn
Below: Adam Goshorn OBJ Rock Sledding, photo by Matt Jones
Flashback to June 2013… I was in my last week of work before a much needed and much anticipated two-week paddling trip to California. Despite the fact that California was experiencing another low water year, my good friends Matt Jones and John Kern were both still willing to make the most of it with me and we had come up with a hit list of rivers that we thought would still be viable. Unfortunately, around this time our plans hit a wall. John flipped over while playboating on the Ocoee and when he instinctively went for a back-deck roll, he face planted on a shallow rock. The result was several cuts to his face and forehead and a lot of stitches.
Below: Boofing big on BigWoodFalls on Daisy Creek, photo by Adam Goshorn
Below: Paradise Divide, high above Crested Butte, photo by Adam Goshorn
The cuts and stitches on John’s forehead made it impossible for him to wear a helmet for at least a few weeks. Matt and I had our vacation time locked into the previously agreed upon timeframe, so there was no way we could delay the trip for John’s recovery. Unable to change the timeframe of the trip, our three person crew was suddenly down to two. With one less driver, and perhaps more importantly, one less person splitting the cost of gas… Matt and I decided we would scrap our California plans and try to catch the end of the snowmelt season in Colorado instead.
Below: Matt Jones on the first drop on OBJ, photos by Adam Goshorn
Matt and I drove straight through, 23 hours, from my house in Mentone, Alabama to Clear Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas River outside Buena Vista, Colorado. Clear Creek is always my favorite run to start or end (or both) a trip to Colorado. It is a fast, fun run with easy logistics and free camping at the take-out. We stepped out of the truck and immediately unloaded boats and geared up. This would set the tone for our whirlwind eleven days in Colorado. All told, our trip resulted in us doing fifteen runs, on eleven sections, of nine different rivers… in eleven days. Including boating straight out of the truck on the day we arrived and boating the morning of the day we departed for the drive home. In addition to Clear Creek, we also paddled Pine Creek section of the Arkansas (x2), the Numbers section of the Arkansas (x2), Royal Gorge of the Arkansas, Oh Be Joyful (x3), Daisy, Slate, upper East, Slaughterhouse section of the Roaring Fork, Bailey’s Canyon on the North Fork of the South Plate, and Eleven-Mile Canyon on the South Platte itself.
Below: Adam Goshorn on one of the early slides on OJB, photos by Matt Jones
In addition to getting on such a variety of runs in only eleven days, two other things stand out to me about our trip. The first is that despite having only one vehicle, we only couldn’t find shuttle twice on the whole trip. We ended up hiking our shuttle for one of our runs on Oh Be Joyful and Matt biked our shuttle for the upper East River. However, everywhere else we were able to somehow work out shuttle logistics. A few times we were able to meet up with other paddlers, but just as often we ended up getting shuttled by random hikers we met along the way or hitch hiking in some of the places with more traffic. Most paddlers expect to help each other out and to be helped out by the paddling community, but we were feeling the love from all sectors of the outdoor recreation world. It seemed like we were lucking out at every turn and it really added a very positive vibe to the whole trip.
Below: Matt Jones on OBJ’s biggest drop, photos by Adam Goshorn
The other thing that stands out in my memory as being unique about this trip is the slow pace life and strange daily schedule of our time in Crested Butte. We were camping at the forest service campground on the SlateRiver, which serves at the take-out for the Oh Be Joyful and the SlateRiver. Due to being there near the end of the short Crested Butte paddling season, we needed to wait as long as possible each day to allow enough snow to melt to raise the water level enough for padding.
Below: N.F. Slate turbo gnar, photo by Adam Goshorn
Below: Adam Goshorn OBJ sliding, photo by Matt Jones
So, we tried our best to sleep in each day and we would usually spend most of the middle of the day exploring the maze of forest service roads that network the mountains in the area. Eventually, we would make our way to whatever run was the destination for the day and put on the water around 5-6:00 PM. Putting on the water so late in the day made the water levels much better, but resulted in only being able to do one run per day. This was very different from my previous time in Crested Butte (in 2008) where we paddled multiple runs almost every day. However, in retrospect it forced us to relax a little more and enjoy the beautiful setting, rather than just rushing to the next run… a lesson we all need to be reminded of periodically.
Colorado GoBro Reel 2013 from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.
Until next time…
Below: Colorado Sunset, photo by Adam Goshorn
Below: Goosenecks defined on the East River, photo by Adam Goshorn
Below: Paradise Divide at 11,250 feet , photo by Adam Goshorn
Below: One of many cascades high above Crested Butte, photo by Adam Goshorn