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You don’t know till you go…

Two years ago we attended our first Yampa river festival and fell in love with the small town of Steamboat, the local river and local kayaking community. Throughout our first visit the local boys had been telling us tall tales of a stretch of river located just out of town called the North fork of the Fish. We didn’t have time to go check it out last year but this year we made a special effort to see whether the stories of amazing rapids hidden in a gorge chocked full of strainers and siphons was true.

The North off the Fish requires a two mile hike past an old, abandened and thankfully non radioactive Uranium mine. We arrived at the legendary put in rapid named the “Hairy Beaver” full of optimism and stoke only to find both the locals concerns and our fears to be confirmed. Suffice it to say, Wood was going to be an issue on this run. We cast aside our hopes of getting to run this awesome rapid due to huge amounts of wood. We put in below for what was going to be a hectic few miles of steep white water and last chance eddies.

This was one of the first major rapids we came too, Wood completely blocked the left side of this drop but there was a small gap on the right that we decided to go for, Thankfully it paid off and we where rewarded with about half a mile of small boofs and boulder garden awesomeness. However as the saying goes all good things must come to an end and we eventually rolled up on yet another set of trees blocking of the river. We had been lucky with the past few portages in that we could stay low, next to the river and get them done quickly and easily. It was not to be the case with this one and we had no choice but to go high and dry.

Several good rapids later, sketchy moments with trees and a couple more miserable portages we where sure that the worst was behind us and we would be soon coming up on our marker for the takeout.
However there was one last hurdle for us before we could roll into the final rapid of the day in the form of yet another tree blocking the entire river. We had two choices, portage around it which we estimated would take close to an hour or suck it up and boof the tree.

Boofing the tree went surprisingly well and just around the corner in the distance was our marker for the take out. The last rapid was a mad zigg zagging scramble, if we didn’t make it to the right of the river and through the final slot into the eddy we would likely have been swept into the worst tree situation on the river with any form of rescue being unlikely. Thankfully both myself and Matt Anger caught the last eddy and subsequently promised to never (ever) run this river again. Allthough on the hikeout our thoughts mellowed and with some major tree removal we both feel this run could be opened up and be one of the best runs in the local area.

So, now we know, as usual the local kayakers were right and it was indeed a tree and siphon infested gorge but those few awesome rapids where also in there and helped to make it (almost) worth the effort.
See you next year Steamboat,