Rad Tour 2012

I'm sure someone has used that title before for their Colorado tour, but before you say anything, watch our video.



... Now, having watched the video, ask yourself: could anyone else be as rad as that?

The Colorado season is usually a short season, but this year has been exceptional. Not exceptionally good - quite the opposite. It's now the end of May, and competitions are just beginning to get started, but many of the rivers have already peaked. Natalie and I have been dashing around the state trying to get on as much as we can before the drought really starts. We are making a special effort to get a lot of shots of Natalie, since we have the official word that the Whitewater Grand Prix will be selecting one women's wild card spot based on video submissions. We put together a promo for Natalie way back at the beginning of last fall to try to get this spot, but that was before we knew that the format for the 2012 WWGP would be entirely racing. Our old promo was much more well rounded, featuring creekboating and playboating. Here is a link to the old video. Still awesome. If we need to make a video featuring nothing but creeking, we are going to need more sick waterfalls.

I used to not really understand it, but it turns out that there are plenty of awesome freefall opportunities in Colorado. There are a lot of manky creeks, for sure, and the waterfalls that we have are generally either hard to access or difficult to run. The pacific northwest will probably remain as the waterfall lover's paradise. However, if you've got the skills and you're willing to put in some work, you can get some goods in Colorado.

Conor spikes the punch. First run of the season? Rad Tour 2012
Our goods-getting started with a hike and huck of the Crystal Punchbowls. We were joined by our friend Conor Flynn, and we almost got skunked. We spent most of the day driving around in 4WD low, and the road to the punchbowls was still snowed in. However, we decided to hike a little ways past the snow, and found that the drops themselves were clear. We don't know for sure, but I think there is a good chance that we were the first people to run that drop this season.

From Rad Tour 2012
Natalie had an exceptional line, nailing a very pretty boof. This was trickier than usual because the water was low, which meant that the lip was bumpy, and tended to give you a kick in the pants at the last second. For Conor and I, that kick sent us flying out of control, but for Natalie it just made her boof bigger. I think it was because of the Bazooka she was paddling.

From Rad Tour 2012

Rock dodging on the NF Crystal. Rad Tour 2012
After the punchbowls, we hit the North Fork of the Crystal (also low, but fun), and generally started taking more video instead of stills. Conor went home to his family and Natalie and I continued south to Durango. I was apprehensive about a Durango trip, because this is the area of Colorado that is most infamous for difficult hiking, and I was still recovering from a broken ankle. Durango is the region that spawned paddlers like the Klema brothers, and Ben Luck, who has so much mountain goat blood in him that he actually has horns. I was fresh out of physical therapy and just starting to hop a little bit on my weak leg. I had no idea how the joint would hold up during any real hiking.

Fortunately for me, I'm still young. Maybe not as young as I was last year, but not yet 30. My ankle held up quite well. We scouted out GHM falls on Wolf Creek pass. Here is the video of Pat Keller making the only descent. When we finally made our way down to the falls, I thought it was way too low, but after reviewing the video, I think that the levels were not too different. I guess that, as the kids say, I am not Pat Keller. That drop is much more frightening in person than it is in the video.

After a day of walking around on the pass, we headed in to 4 Corners Riversports for the local beta. The word on the street was that the second gorge of Lime Creek was at a good level, so, after trying unsuccessfully to motivate a third paddler for safety or photos, Natalie and I hiked across Purgatory Flats for a lap down one of the sickest creeks I have ever experienced. The gorge was short but sweet, and extremely committing. There were only two or three waterfalls, but it was an ultra cool place to be.

Natalie enjoys an evening session at ultra low water. Rad Tour 2012
Having spent a few days gallivanting around, it was almost time for Paddlefest in Buena Vista. We had time for a couple laps on Vallecito, a creek that is so classic it needs no description. We relaxed for the weekend in BV and ran Lake creek between rounds of the rodeo. It was a great break. Next up are the Teva Mountain Games, the North Fork Championship, and many more competitions. Hopefully there will be enough water for the rest of the season.

Here is a slideshow with more of the photos that we took during the trip.

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