Better late then never!
I want to start 2013 off by rewinding about 1 year.

The last year has been pretty hectic for me to say the least. There was no snow in Colorado, then I moved out of state (more on that in my next post), then I had my first kid and and 2 days later started a new job.

I moved to Colorado 12 years ago because I wanted to be close to good skiing. In the winter of 2011 / 2012 I only got in 3 days. One was a solo backcountry day on Mt Audubon in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, one was a day at Crystal Mountain in Washington and the 3rd was actually a sweet powder day at Eldora. It was a horrible season for me to say the least.

Solo mission to ski Crooked Coulior on Mt Audubon
a typical look for the mountains of colorado in the winter of 2012

Epic day at Eldora outside the gate

The worst part about a weak ski season for a kayaker is that you get the double wammy because the water just won't be there either. But when you are a kayaker, you have to make the best of what you've got, and kayakers tend to be pretty good at that.

Forrest and I catching Boulder Creek as it flashes from 70 to 700cfs in an hour in July

In 2012 we got a rare mid - March run down Gore Canyon. Paddling Gore in March is kind of bitter sweet. You are paddling early and have just shortened the off season which is cool, but at the same time the only reason you can get in there is because it been 60 degrees all winter and there is no snow on the ground. Gore in the 600 range still goes great. Yeah you may bang off a couple rocks here and there but its March and you are kayaking in Colorado. Boofing the rock that makes "Ginger" is a really fun move and I feel like tunnel gets even more technical.

Here is a shot Alex Clayden took of me trying out a new downriver freestyle move into tunnel.

With positive thoughts....Gore at higher flows is one of the better runs I have ever done. When gore gets up over 4k again.... Cancel whatever kayaking plans you have in Colorado and put this on top of your list. You won't be disappointed.

Here is some Gore helmet cam eye candy from 2011 when Colorado had a good snowpack and a serious runoff.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for the Colorado core crew this year that it comes up this high again.

On a typical year as we approach spring the class V kayaking crew has 2 early season options to kick things off, the Rio Embudo and Escalante. Every year it feels like they come in just so fast and you are scrambling to clean the cobwebs off your paddle, make sure there are no spiders in your boat, and knock out whatever other critters decided to make a nice cozy home in your creek booties over the winter.

As we came upon that time once again the choice for our first mini road trip was the Embudo.

life on the Embudo wouldn't be quite as sweet without the hospitality of local legend Atom Crawford

Every time I run the Embudo I like it more. Its one of those runs when once you start to learn the lines and get to know where you are going, you have more time to focus on the magnificent canyon. There is just nothing else out there like it. The Embudo has great continuous action with 2 distinct sections. The upper section is highlighted by long rapid, cheese grater and mj falls. All of which can hand out beatings but go really well most of the time. The lower canyon is all about slots! Its a committing non stop, hole charging, boofing kayakers playground. The more water the better!

Forrest and I watching the crowds charge through slots of fun

If you haven't run the Embudo but have been thinking about it, make this your year. Here is a cheesy helmet cam guide video I threw together for the early season chargers that want a piece of the Embudo action.

- Sean Lee -

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