Finals week - Party time!

Those of you who are not grad students probably remember finals week as a stressful climax to the semester. You probably had a bunch of finals, and divided your time between studying and freaking out. Well, when you're a grad student, especially a third year grad student, things are a little different. Personally, I'm only taking one class, which didn't have a final, and I had to have all my grading done before the finals week started. Natalie had two finals, but the earliest one was on wednesday. When classes ended, we were ready to have some fun.

We started our adventure off with a run down Eldorado creek, outside Boulder. Neither of us had done it before, so we had no idea what to expect. It was a blast. It's basically a park 'n huck rapid, about a quarter of a mile long. At the top, there's a nice boof, then there's a long-ish double drop. There is more stuff below there, but we elected to take out right after the crux. Eldo was like some sort of extreme sports amusement park. There were climbers everywhere, mountain bikers, and of course us kayakers. Large families would wander around with cheap cameras snapping shots of the action. It was unlike any other run that I've done. I really felt like we were putting on a little show when we paddled. And we rocked the house.

Natalie on Eldorado Canyon. See the full photo album here.

For saturday, Natalie and I kept heading south, and met up with my mom for some late season skiing on Pike's Peak. The snow was about like you might expect; icy in the morning, and slushy late in the day. We had a big group of people (Ann's boyfriend Tomas' family), which was pretty fun. It's a little embarrassing to admit, but I think that Pike's Peak was the most exposed skiing that I've done. It might not be the steepest, but it just stayed about the same pitch from the parking lot at the top right down to the pullout at the bottom. Since we were up above timberline, there were no trees to conceal the consequences of a bad fall. Fortunately, we were just having fun, not trying to push the envelope and run any really sick lines, so there wasn't anything to worry about.

Natalie on the Little Italy chute, Pike's Peak. See the full album here.

That night, we went even farther south, to New Mexico, and the next day (after quite a few navigational adventures) we ended up running the Upper Taos Box at a pretty high flow. I definitely recommend this run. It was sort of continuous, mostly read and run big water class V. I was reminded of the North Fork of the Payette crossed with Westwater. Natalie paddled the Medium Solo demo, and she said that she really enjoyed the way that it handled in big water. We caught shuttle with a big group of easterners (including John Grace) and I relentlessly made fun of the fact that a large number of them wore drysuits. Personally, I was glad to be back in warm water and warm air, so I wore a shorty. This just goes to show that absolutely everyone from east of the Mississippi is NOT hardcore. (This means you, Seth!) For some reason, we decided not to bring the still camera on that run, so there aren't any photos, folks.

Natalie on an "in-between" rapid on the Embudo. See the full album here.

On monday, after most of the crowds had gone back to work, we finally got on the run that we had really come for; the Rio Embudo. Levels were high in the morning, but we dawdled our way down the run, and by the time we took out, the creek was back to a manageable flow. The Embudo was worth the drive. I would say that it was a little like Escalante creek, but it's got its own character. If I had a continuous-ness scale ranging from 1 to 7, the Embudo would be about a 5 at that level. There were eddies, but it was often hard to tell when one rapid ended and another started. Fortunately, this is the sort of creeking dynamics that Natalie and I excel at. We're both used to running 20 feet worth of a rapid, then stopping and getting out to film the other person. For the Embudo, it was business as usual, except that the rapids just kept going and going. This made for a tiring day, especially since we occasionally had to scout very far in advance. For one particularly long rapid, which we later learned was named Slots of Fun, we actually scouted the same rapid in three different steps. We were quite satisfied by the time we got to the takeout, at Atom's house, right next to the river. The ice cream game scores for the day were also something to be proud of: 0 flips, 0 portages.

With the Embudo conquered, we packed up all our crap and made the long drive back to Fort Collins. Just before leaving friday morning, I had met with a student and answered a few questions. We set up a meeting for tuesday morning. The way things worked out, I met with him on my way out of town, and on my way back into town. I found that a little amusing.

Here's a slideshow of the photos from the weekend. Enjoy.


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