Rafting returns to upper Ten Mile
About a mile into rafting upper Ten Mile Creek from Officers Gulch, Josh Bumpus turned to me and said he’d never paddled the stretch of class III/IV rapids that we were in the middle of. Well that makes two of us I thought, and 100 percent of our two-man crew. But between us, it was clear we had more than enough whitewater experience.
Upper Ten Mile is not a run for beginners, whether in a kayak or a raft. The creek drops 110 feet per mile as it snakes down the Interstate 70 corridor. KODI Rafting company in Frisco requires their guests to have previous rafting experience. It’s a fast-moving, narrow, technical stretch of whitewater, littered with boulders.
Bumpus and I met about a half-hour before putting in to the snowmelt-filled creek that was now raging at a flow of around 800 cubic feet per second(cfs). I’d joined up with Christian ‘Campy’ Campton, owner of KODI Rafting, as part of a private run with a group of KODI Rafting company guides.
At the put-in Campton had connected me with Bumpus and given me the option to ‘R-2’(two-man) a boat, I jumped at the opportunity.
Now in the midst of the rapids, I laughed, thinking of how many times I’ve used the ‘this is my first time’ joke on an unsuspecting crew. Wether Bumpus was serious or not didn’t matter. We were both experienced paddlers.
Upper Ten Mile Creek is not for the faint of heart.
“It was more continuous than I was expecting,” said Bumpus afterward. “You have to be on your toes.”
The stretch of technical class III/IV Rapids are loud enough to mute nearby I-70. In fact, the interstate is barely noticeable while maneuvering from one boulder-filled rapid to the next.
It turned out that it was his first time on that section. Thinking as a former guide, I chuckled, I would have waited till that point to mention it, too. We’d already hit some solid rapids and established each other’s rafting credibility, so his comment was more of an afterthought than a concern.
The run only lasted about an hour, but it was intense from start to finish.
“It’s an amazing trip,” said Campton. “You peal out of the eddy and it’s game on.”
Rafting upper Ten Mile was a rare treat. Even in good snow years there’s only about a two-week period where it’s possible to get a raft through.
“It’s super snow dependant” said Campton. “I’m holding my breath that we’ll be able to run it again.”
Last year, because of the low snowfall, his company wasn’t able to run that stretch at all. The flow was a mere 140 cfs at this time last year, when the creek is supposed to peak. Campton said the flow needs to be above 450 cfs to run it. And if the weather gets too hot too fast, and the flow gets much higher than 800, as it did last week, the water level raises enough to where fitting under the bridges in Frisco becomes an issue.
Clearance was tight and we had to duck for our run through.
“You gotta hit it at the right time,” said Campton.
And that window is closing. With warmer nights, this weekend may be the last chance to run it in a raft. KODI Rafting ran a commercial trip on it Thursday evening, but Campton is unsure how much longer they will be able to.
“It’s touch and go.”
More rafting information on Ten Mile Creek and other trips is available, visit http://www.whitewatercolorado.com or contact KODI Rafting.
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