Pyranha Logo
facebook twitter vimeo




July in Colorado Part 3

After spending two days in the headwaters of the Crystal River we made our way back to a local cafe in Carbondale to contemplate our next move.  While enjoying some breakfast burritos and wireless internet access we called Charlie Mix who was living in Durango for the summer.  Charlie explained that water levels were dropping fast and that if we wanted to catch Vallecito, we should come quickly.  Vallecito had been high our hit list in 2008 and was again for 2009 too, but so far we had yet to catch it on either trip.  Vallecito has been described by many as “the best mile of creeking in Colorado”.  With that in mind, we loaded up and hit the road arriving with enough daylight to meet Cruise Quenelle for a run.
Joey Jarrell on Vallecito.
Joey Jarrell on Vallecito.

In my opinion Vallecito is one of those rare rivers that lives up to the hype that surrounds it.  It is truly beautiful creek in a tight gorge with smooth boulders and a seemingly endless number of fun rapids and boofs.  We followed Cruise’s lead, rarely slowing down enough to document the run, but emerged from the depths of the gorge with ear to ear smiles that nothing could dampen.   We spent that evening at Cruise’s house catching up with the rest of the Alabama boys who were living there for the summer.  Late into the night we watched each other’s video footage, sharing all the stories from a summer of running rivers. 

Although it was very tempting to stay another day for more laps on Vallecito, the next morning we decided to turn our attention to a different run on our list, the Big South.  We left Durango mid morning and made it back to Aspen in time for another run on Castle Creek and the Roaring Fork before finding a beautiful crash and dash spot to sleep for the night.  The following day we drove towards Denver and spend that afternoon and the following morning running the Upper and Blackrock sections of Clear Creek before continuing our drive north to the Big South.

The evening we arrived at the Big South take-out, the last group was still hanging around after their run and invited us camp with them that evening for the first of two nights we would spend camping in mosquito hell.  The following morning as we drove to the put-in we found another crew of southeasterners camping along the road.  We pulled over to greet these friends and ended up catching a ride with them to set shuttle.  The put-in for Big South is actually on Weird Creek.  We had been told that Weird Creek is actually fun at high water, but what we found was a bang fest that continued to abuse our already heavily used boats.  Luckily the flow doubled at the confluence and soon the fun rapids and drops began.

Adam Goshorn on Fantasy Flight on Big South.  Photo by Joey Jarrell.

Adam Goshorn on the Big South.  Photo by Joey Jarrell.

To read the rest of this entry >>