I attended, as a spectator, the stand up paddling competition held on June 12 at the Glenwood Springs whitewater park. Being a retired civil engineer with professional experience in hydraulics, as well as having modest experience at whitewater boating, I can say that the design of the overall facility is seriously deficient in several respects.
The most important of these affects the safety of kayakers and surfers, particularly during times of high flow in the river such as at present.
A less serious problem is an inexplicable lack of parking for spectator events.
The park consists primarily of an underwater weir across the center of the river that creates a standing wave. In this, the tendency of the upper surface of the wave to flow upstream is offset by the velocity of the lower surface of the water flowing downstream. A boater or surfer who expertly positions himself can “surf” the wave before almost invariably wiping out.
The qualified good news about the Glenwood Springs wave is that it is not a “keeper.” That means that anyone who wipes out in it will be carried downstream by the current, rather than continuously tumbled in the wave like a rag in a washing machine and drowned.
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The bad news is that nothing has been provided downstream of the wave to enable boaters or surfers to safely get to shore and return back upstream. This is particularly a hazard under high flow conditions when the river is about 250 feet wide and the velocity is about 15 feet per second. That means that a boater or surfer who takes just one minute to paddle to shore will be 900 feet downstream. Somebody having real trouble could end up, probably floating face down, at the Cameo Dam above Grand Junction.
The least that should be done, at modest cost, is to install some small wing dikes on both sides of the river downstream of the wave to create eddies where boaters and surfers could escape the current. Stairways should be provided at these points to enable people to haul out and access improved-surface paths leading back to the launching areas above the wave.
Carl Ted Stude
Perhaps the Post Independent’s leftist editorial cartoonist was referring to the three-fifths clause in the Constitution of the United States in the tasteless editorial cartoon of June 16 ridiculing that same document’s signers.
They insinuated the motive of racism to demean this historical document and its founders, while – ironically – exercising their right to do so as guaranteed by the First Amendment of that same document, and by those same founders.
That clause, and their real-life situation, not unlike the complexities of immigration issues we face today, had to do with the census, not race. Slaves actually outnumbered their owners in the South, and if there were a vote for each one, the North feared the South would use this to continue the practice of slavery.
Simply reading Frederick Douglass’s comments on the three-fifths clause and his realization of its brilliance would be worth a quick refresher for the editorial department at the Post Independent.
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