Breck kayak scene dried out for now
Everyone is praying for rain, but none so imploringly as those in the local kayaking industry.
All upcoming events at the Breckenridge Kayak Park have been cancelled due to record low water levels in the Blue River. The Town cancelled kayak rodeo events, which would have kicked off this week, and the opening ceremony for phase two of the Whitewater Park, originally slated for June 7.
“All we really need is an average winter,” said Franklin Crowe, assistant manager at Summit Kayak. “When we get some winters again, we’ll have that play park kicking. We’ve just had the driest (climate) we’ve had in a long time. It’s a matter of timing. We just need a good, steady day of rain and the water would likely come up to passable.”
Breckenridge water officials have predicted that the Blue is at its peak this week, but Open Space representatives and those in the kayak industry are still hoping a good rainfall might change that.
“It looks like the Blue River flow right now is about 35 CFS,” said Heide Andersen, open space director for the Town of Breckenridge. “That’s quite a bit more than it has been, like three times as much. It was about 13 (CFS) for a while. At this time last year though, we had up to 200 CFS.”
Even last year, Summit Kayak representatives said water levels were about 60 percent of average. In order to go on with the opening ceremony for the second phase of the Whitewater park, Breckenridge was considering releasing 150 CFS from the Goose Pasture Tarn above the Blue, but decided against it, considering the low water levels throughout the county.
“We thought it would look bad in terms of wasting water, given the drought situation,” Andersen said. “It would look bad in terms of wasting water on recreation when people are having their wells go dry and that sort of thing.”
Phase one of the kayak park, which runs in the Blue from the pedestrian bridge east of the Breckenridge Recreation Center to the culverts at Valley Brook Road, opened last spring. However, kayakers have not been playing in the park this season, when portions of it are so low people can walk across it without getting their feet wet.
“You’d be scraping the bottom of your boat,” Andersen said. “I don’t know if the features would be worthwhile.”
Andersen and Summit Kayak organizers are disappointed at the cancellation of the rodeo events and the phase two opening ceremony, but are looking forward to the 14th annual Ten Mile One Mile downriver race, rodeo and slalom events, which is still slated to take place June 8 on Ten Mile Creek at Walter Byron Park in Frisco.
“Ten Mile Creek is beginning to peak,” said Chad Gorby, co-owner of Summit Kayak. “There’s definitely more snow off that drainage.”
Summit Kayak is still booking classes and workshops and has found “very playful” areas of the Colorado and Arkansas rivers.
Many in the industry were surprised that water levels in Gore Creek were high enough for Vail to move on with its Whitewater Festival this weekend, considering that water levels in rivers and creeks throughout Colorado carry a rating of “no water – will not float a boat,” according to coloradokayak.com. However, industry representatives attest to the existence of good kayaking areas for those who look and who are willing to drive.
“It’s a great time to learn,” Crowe said. “A lot of guys are bummed on the low water levels, but our schools are busy as ever. The only two things that might run are the Colorado and the Arkansas. It might not be an epic year, but things are still running, that’s the bottom line. It’s not like we’re a desert. Realistically though, if we don’t get some rain, we’re going to peak out a lot sooner than normal.”
Water levels in state kayaking areas are updated on http://www.coloradokayak.com.
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at email@example.com.
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