Cyrstal Creeking - A high Water Event - North Fork of the Crystal and Crystal Mill Falls
Thanks to all the photographers who contributed photos to this post: Chris Larsen, Steve Melnick, Nicole Mansfield, Chris Menges. This was a high water session on the North Fork of the Crystal event during the first weekend in June. Flows on the Avalanche gauge showed that our runs were done at 1300 (Saturday night) and 1000 (Sunday morning). The run is typically paddled between 500 and 800 cfs.
Day 1 @ 1300 cfs
The first of the top 4 drops is Icing (pictured below), a 40 foot cascading slide. Paddlers typically drop in on the right side of a dividing rock. Paddlers who have been here before will note the water almost covering the center rock, which is usually well out of the water. At these higher levels, icing quickly leads into Cake, another 40ish foot cascade. The photo below shows this drop as seen from shore about 1/4 of the way down. At normal levels paddlers find a nice pool, recovery zone and eddy at the bottom of Cake, allowing for time to avoid the logs blocking the river left channel of drop # 3. At the high level on Saturday night, we felt that missing the eddy at the bottom of the 2 slides would be very unpleasant. Above, Leif Embertson extracts a log from the second part of drop #3. Note the landing of Cake in the background as well as the logs blocking the river left channel. These logs were almost covered on Saturday night. Drop # 3 leads around a corner to this 8 foot falls, which felt just right even at high flows. Chris Menges practices his boof at dusk. ___________________________________________________________________

Day 2 @ 1000 cfs

Waking up in the morning, we were glad to see that the river had dropped a bit. A few group members who had opted not to run on day 1 were stoked to get in the water. Always a good man to have setting safety and watching your back, Chris Larsen (above) sets up on the logs just in case. Always one of the most skilled paddlers of any paddling trip I'm on with her, ex-slalom paddler Laura Jorgensen scouts her line on Icing. Leif Embertson paddling the short lead in to Icing. The amazing scenery of the upper Crystal valley is one of the main reasons for visiting the area. Leif on Icing, day 1 high water run..... ....and on day 2, slightly less high water run. The tree in the bottom of the frame was new to us on day 2. Drop in river right. Nicole Mansfield loves hot dogs, makes sweet beanies and always fires up the big drops in style. Above, Nicole on line in Cake. Laura Jorgensen kayaking down some slightly steep and fast moving water. Chris Menges coming through the bottom of the second big drop with a little bit of speed. Nicole boofs drop 4. More drop 4 fun.... Las chicas del equipo 'HZG' y sin seguro in the eddy below drop 4. Laura Jorgenses peels into an eddy and displays some of the great paddling technique she picked up as a slalom racer. The road access to the North Fork is definitely at least 4+......... ......but beautiful all the same. After the North Fork, it is fun to paddle the Crystal Mill Falls to Crystal Gorge put-in run (don't go too far). A sequence of Chris' run on Crystal Mill Falls, one of Colorado's most well known natural landmarks. More pics on this section to follow in the next few days............

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