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Runnin with the river

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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For Phil Nyland, the countys cool river runoff is a hot topic with his paddler friends and at work.Nyland is particularly interested in the areas high flows for personal and professional reasons. Hes an avid kayaker, and also an Aspen-Sopris district wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service who keeps an eye on the effect of river flows on fish habitat.Theres a whole segment of people in the valley like me who put up their skis and take out their kayaks as soon the water is in, he said. No matter what theyre doing, theyre going hard.Nyland said many paddlers are taking advantage of the early spring runoff in river sections not always conducive to kayaking.Except this year.Theres going to be areas for sure that will be accessible to paddle that are normally not accessible, Nyland said. The Frying Pan will be at high flows, and normally its at a level not worth dealing with. This year youll see more people paddling sections of the Frying Pan and Crystal rivers. The Crystal wont have the runoff that the Frying Pan or Roaring Fork had. The Roaring Fork will have relatively big water that it normally doesnt. Up near New Castle, Elk Creek. Theres three sections east, main and west Elk Creek hair boaters (paddlers who kayak in difficult water) will be paddling.For months, Colorado water and wildlife agencies and whitewater enthusiasts alike have been watching and talking about spring flows. A record-high snowfall typically equates to big water in the spring. But with high temperatures in May and sparse precipitation in April, sublimation has caused the snow to turn to gas, instead of liquifying first.Two months ago with all the snowpack, we were very concerned about flooding, but theres not going to be anything like that. The high temperatures, as well as not much humidity in the air, has caused sublimation, said John Sikora, assistant division engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources. The runoff this year is two weeks ahead of schedule. I dont think were going to see any bigger peaks than years before. Unless we get some more precipitation, well only have two or three more weeks of big water.With temperatures in the 70s and even 80s, commercial rafting companies and private boaters have been jumping at the chance to get on the river. On Thursday, the Shoshone section of the Colorado River was running at 5,300 cubic feet per second.Ken Murphy, Rock Gardens Rafting and Glenwood Canyon Resorts general manager, said his company stopped running commercial trips through Shoshone on Wednesday. But they’re still taking plenty of customers from the Grizzly Creek put-in to the Two Rivers takeout, and beyond.This hot weather has been great, Murphy said. We had seven boats out Monday and 10 out on Tuesday. One of the benefits of this river is we can put-in at Grizzly for people of all different ages moms, dads and kids.Murphy said hes excited about the season getting started early for his business. He has reservations through Memorial Day, and just scheduled a wedding party trip in October.We like to tell people theres enough whitewater to get everybody wet and not scare anybody, he said.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.com

The rafting seasons annual kickoff event, the Colorado Yagatta Regatta a costume raft event with live music, microbrew beer tasting and food at Two Rivers Park takes place Saturday, June 3. Admission to the party at Two Rivers Park is $10 per adult and $5 per child to benefit Cooper Corner Center. Call Whitewater Rafting at 945-8477 for more information.

Bony: A rapid requiring a lot of maneuvering because of numerous obstacles, mostly rocks. Bony conditions typically result from low water. Burly: A river that is big, intense and has lots of holes Carnage: This is a general term for accidents on the river. Gnar: Big, intense, difficult rapids Hair boating: Paddling in extreme conditions with dangerous and difficult water The Mank, manky, manky-mank: A shallow rapid filled with sharp, chunky rocks One-shot wonder: A catch-on-the-fly wave Shuttle bunny (or monkey): A woman or man (the monkey) who gets roped into driving shuttle usually does not end up paddling Washed out: Used to describe rapids at high water when obstacles are submergedSource: http://www.wetdawg.com



Fashion meets function with cool gear for river runners this summer. Here are a few of my picks for 2006:

Two narrow straps instead of one wider strap allow these popular Velcro-less river sandals to more accurately conform to feet. Chacos are re-soleable and have the Seal of Acceptance of the American Podiatric Medical Association for promoting a high level of foot health.Price: $95-$105 (chacousa.com)



This lightweight, tight-fitting, wind and abrasion-resistant rash guard is made with a four-way stretch blend that provides protection from the sun (blocking 97 percent of UV rays). The flat-seam construction prevents chaffing and the high neck prevents sunburn.Price: $55 (immersionresearch.com)

This personal floatation device is tailored to fit whitewater kayakers and rafters with short torsos or smaller frames with a sleek, tri-panel design that sits lower and more securely against the sternum. Adjusts at the sides and waist for optimal comfort.Price: $125 (lotusdesigns.com)

A waterproof refuge from inclement weather made from polyurethane-coated nylon fabric for breathable protection. Buoyant brim keeps hat afloat for fast retrieval and a waterproof pocket stores small accessories, cash or ID. Reflective logo and piping enhance visibility in low-light conditions.Price: $40 (extrasport.com)


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