The OBJ Daze

With the conclusion of the CKS Paddlefest In Buena Vista two weeks ago, and the beginning of the statewide heat wave, a horde of boaters made the short pilgrimage over Cottonwood Pass to Crested Butte and the Oh Be Joyful campground. With all the east coast companies out for their yearly summer tour of Colorado, there were honestly only a handful of Colorado plates in the whole campsite. Monday morning started off in true OBJ fashion with the biggest 4x4 jeep in the whole campground having to be pulled out of the river at 8:00 in the morning. For those who happen to be unfamiliar with OBJ, shuttles to the put-in are a bit of a luxury because of the required crossing of the Slate River. On this weekend, rides to the top were rarer with such high flows coming down the valley. If you didn’t make your trek across early in the morning you could go ahead and start rigging the kayak straps for a hike. And as one couple of veteran east coast boaters (who won’t be named here) would attest, you’re better off camping on the other side and ferrying over to the party, than attempting to forge after noon. Or you might just find yourself staking claim to your own private island for an evening.

Early morning excitement, with the whole campsite spectating
3 Toyotas to the rescue, good luck American auto industry

Now I’ll come clean, this was actually my first time down this gorgeous run. My friend Duane and I got lucky and met up with a crew from Denver who had been on the run for the past couple days. We were even lucky enough to have a shuttle for our first run. As kayak trips tend to go, when you’re scrambling to get on a run you tend not to be too picky about who you’re paddling with, and I’m sad to admit that I can’t even remember the guys’s names that we paddled with, but they were the best guides we could’ve asked for. Only taking a quick glance at Avalanche, the 60-70’ slide, just so we knew what we were getting into, we were in for a rollercoaster ride of a virgin run down OBJ. If you’re a competent class V boater and you have a solid guide you may really enjoy this approach as I did, but don’t ever feel pressured to run something if you’re not sure of your predicament, and if you get hassled by your fellow boaters they’re not people you want to be boating with anyways. But I’ll admit, and I’m not trying to sound like some cocky POS, but running OBJ Falls blind at good flows might be about the best way to do it if you struggle with the nerves. It is definitely one of the best 20+ footers to truly dial in your boof. It is one drop that’ll make you work for a solid boof, as I found out the hard way, multiple times. Chase Nobles, gettin on the goods for his first time as well

Shane Benedict, I think he's done this before

OBJ Falls, mmm...tasty

Run number two I found myself paddling with the Liquid Logic crew of Shane Benedict, John Grace, Adrienne Levknecht and Dagger paddler Pat Keller. With the first run going by in a flash it was nice to have another guided tour and really start dialing in the lines. I took my last run the next day with Demshitz and Todd Baker. There was a little hole surfing action to be had in the bottom of Avalanche but all around everyone styled it.

Dave Fusilli, splitting wood on Ankle Breaker Falls

Team Demshitz and CKS Squad member Nicole Mansfield gettin rowdy on Avalanche

Demshitz paddler, Grahm Seiler working hard to avoid the hole on Avalanche

This report comes from about two weeks ago and the word on the Buzz is that the wood damn at the base of Avalanche has partially blown out and is now ready to turn the unwary paddler into a human shish kabob. So, be careful if you’re making your way out to OBJ anytime soon and check out the Buzz for updates before you commit a weekend to this Colorado classic.

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