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Ready to head down river

BRYCE EVANS
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
Special to the Daily/David GidleyJim Nadeau of Idaho Springs tests out the play holes in the Lawson Whitewater Park on Saturday. The whitewater kayaking season is now under way, as flows in the area continue to increase.
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FRISCO – March wasn’t a happy time for the county’s kayaking enthusiasts. After a winter that was lacking in terms of snowfall, things were looking bleak in terms of the summer’s conditions.

“We didn’t know if we’d get any water in there at all this year because of the snowpack,” said Matti Wade, owner of Ten Mile Creek Kayaks in Frisco. ” … It definitely brought some spirits down.”

But some April (snow) showers ended up bringing a lot more than colorful foliage to the area – like, say, a promising whitewater season.

And as the warm temperatures continue to melt off some of that snow, Wade said now is the time to get into a boat.

“We should have a great Memorial Day weekend,” he said. ” … My local boaters in town, they’re stoked.”

In Summit County, river kayaking is basically limited to the Blue River, Ten Mile Creek and Snake River.

Wade said the best bet for the weekend is the Upper Blue, below the Dillon Reservoir.

“The (reservoir) is full, so it’s pouring out into the Blue, and it’s running well,” he said.

The most common place to put your boat in on the Blue, Wade said, is north of Silverthorne by the Everist concrete plant just before Heeney Road. Boaters can put in a t a play park right there and, below, the Blue winds through a canyon and into the Green Mountain Reservoir.

“That’s a nice whitewater stretch,” Wade said.

If boaters want, they can also put their boats in near the Outlets at Silverthorne to have some flatter boating.

The Ten Mile Creek – the lower stretch of which runs through Frisco and into the Dillon Reservoir – is still getting higher and its flows are getting stronger, Wade said.

Wade and his staff have paddled the entire length of the stream, and he said the middle and lower stretches are good to go right now. The upper section is also flowing well, but Wade said he recommends only experienced boaters take that stretch, as there’s plenty of debris and wood in the water.

The play hole – located at the west end of Main Street Frisco, a few kayak lengths from the interstate (and across the street from Wade’s shop) – is starting to get to optimal flows.

“The hole’s coming in right now,” Wade said, adding that the Ten Mile was flowing at 357 cfs as of Thursday afternoon and 400-500 is ideal. “There’s been people every day this last week in the play hole.”

The Snake River, Wade said, is for “serious creekers,” meaning the technical aspects of the water are more manageable for experienced paddlers.

In the surrounding area, the upper stretches of the Colorado River – from Pumphouse to State Bridge – is running well, and Gore Creek and the Eagle River in Vail should are also good spots to hit, Wade said.

Clear Creek is also ready for boaters, and the new play park in Lawson is also ready for the season.

But for those looking to stay in the county, Wade said to definitely look at the Blue.

“Hit that hard and get as much time in there as you can, because we don’t know how long it’ll be like this,” he said.

The whitewater kayaking season in the county usually dries up with the streams in early- to mid-July. (Some waters, such as the Colorado and Clear Creek may extend a little longer.)

Once that happens, the focus shifts to the reservoirs, where paddlers can take out their lake boats.

New to the county this year is the availability of stand-up paddling. Really, the name explains it all, and the boats are similar to that of normal kayaking with the exception of the hole where people sit – or lack there of.

Wade will be renting and selling the relatively new boats through his shop.

“Did a lot of research to find a board that’s super stable that anyone can use, and I’m happy to say that’s what we found,” he said. “Anyone with a decent sense of balance should be good to go. And you always have the option to kneel on it or sit on it.”

For now, though, Wade is happy to say the whitewater season is looking good.

“The best news right now is the Glory Hole is getting water in it, and the upper Blue is running,” he said.

“Now that the sun is in, people are going to start moving around and the tourism will come back,” he added. “I’m excited for the season and to see how much water we get.”


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