Summit County running and kayak races impacted by high runoff levels
Ryan Summerlin June 5, 2014
After high runoff levels caused serious damage to Montezuma Road Tuesday, other parts of Summit County continue to be affected by the rushing water.
One local recreational event was canceled, another has been changed and after recent deaths in the Poudre River and Boulder Creek elsewhere in the state, local first responders warn residents to be extra careful around rivers and streams.
‘TOO PUMPING, TOO DANGEROUS’
The organizer of the Ten Mile One Mile Kayak event, originally planned for Saturday and Sunday, said Thursday he decided to cancel the event.
“We’re always working with Mother Nature.”
organizer for the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail
“The rivers are too pumping, too dangerous,” said Matti Wade, the owner of Ten Mile Creek Kayaks in Frisco, who has run the annual event since 2009.
He said he was disappointed, yet relieved that he wouldn’t have to worry about participants’ safety. He was most concerned about paddlers fitting under the town’s bridges, especially at Fourth Street. With multiple boats racing at once, he said, “that’s setting it up for catastrophe.”
Wade said the event has been canceled before, but not for high water, and he couldn’t postpone it because this weekend was the only good time with the Colorado BBQ Challenge, also in Frisco, falling on the next weekend.
For the Run the Rockies 10K and marathon Saturday, June 7, organizers rerouted the race between Copper Mountain and Frisco due to flooding on the recpath along Ten Mile Creek.
Both races will now start at Officers Gulch. The 10K will be an out-and-back course with a turnaround at Seventh Avenue and Temple Trail. The marathon course will be extended past Summit High School to end in the Farmer’s Korner neighborhood between Alpensee and Dickey drives.
At the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Kate Peters, with the Vail Valley Foundation, said organizers are monitoring water levels closely but right now all parts of the 13th annual event should run as scheduled. A stand-up paddleboarding event, in which participants paddle under the bridges in Vail Village, could change if water levels rise.
“We’re always working with Mother Nature,” she said.
Above-average runoff is almost always a good thing for local rafting companies.
“The high water has definitely brought business,” Wade said. At the same time, he said, “it’s hard for beginners to get out right now and paddle.”
He said he was happy the snow is melting off the mountains somewhat slowly, as his shop reaps the benefits of a longer-than-normal season on the Upper Blue and the Ten Mile.
More people are doing guided rafting tours, he said, and as the Dillon Reservoir fills, more will take out paddling and other equipment.
Outflow from reservoir into the Blue River was about 1,600 cfs Thursday. Friday morning, Denver Water will increase the flow to about 1,700 cfs.
The utility adjusted its plan of increasing to 1,800 cfs after Summit County officials expressed concern about the forecast for Straight Creek and Willow Creek, two tributaries that join the Blue River below the reservoir and should reach their peak flows in the next few days.
SWIFT WATER, BUT NO RESCUES
Summit’s first-response agencies responded to the incident on Montezuma Road earlier this week and helped monitor flooding and place sandbags. They haven’t had to rescue anyone out of the water yet this season.
“That’s surprising considering the high water and how many people are out there recreating,” said Colin Dinsmore, president of the Summit County Rescue Group. He said the group could be called to act this weekend and did a swift-water rescue training in Silverthorne Thursday evening.
He recommended the standard safety precautions: Don’t play next to the river, stay away from storm drains and culverts and don’t drive over flooded roads.
“So far everyone’s being smart and safe, and that’s the key,” said Jeff Berino, deputy chief with Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue, who said employees responded to a call about kids playing unsupervised in the Soda Creek drainage in Summit Cove.
“The big thing that worries us is little kids near the rivers,” he said. “We want everybody to be safe.”
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