The
western states lure Eastern boaters with the promise of summer water.
Winter snow melts quickly in early June and brings yearly floods.
With the added waters of afternoon thunderstorms, the streams of the
Rockies reach flows seldom seen in the Appalachians.

Colorado’s
Front Range is only a seventeen hour drive from Atlanta, and hosts
numerous exciting creeks and rivers. In early June I drove to
Colorado with a college friend of mine to boat and mountaineer. We
met up with my sister in Pingree Park, which is a small research
station on the South Fork of the Cache La Poudre river.

The
Cache La Poudre, which is locally known as the Poudre, was flowing at
over 7000 cfs and rising as afternoon rain melted more snow. We
scouted out several possible runs along the 80 miles of roadside
white water. My sister hadn’t boated in quite some time so we
decided to boat some of the lower sections as a warm-up.

Our
boating party consisted of Myra Reeves and Christine Eyestone in
kayaks and Will Reeves in an open canoe. We weren’t alone on the
lower canyon, which seemed to have several hundred other boaters
swimming or boating along it.

The
river was pumping hard at the put-in and really didn’t stop for
eddies or calm spots. We all peeled out and shot down stream like
rockets. After a quarter mile we rounded a bend with six foot
curling waves.

Myra
managed to hug the inside of the bend, but Christine was swept into
the huge curlers, flipped, and swam. The rescue was difficult
because of the extremely swift current. However, within a few
hundred yards we reunited Christine and her kayak. With everyone
back in their boats, we started back downstream.

The
flood conditions created numerous play spots further down the canyon.
We stopped at several and I was reminded of how open boats are a
unique Southeastern phenomenon when kayakers would ask where my other
paddle blade was.

We
finished off the lower canyon run and scouted out several other
sections to boat in the future.

by Will Reeves
From The Eddy Line, October 1997