While many are speculating on what is likely to be the biggest whitewater season any of us has ever seen on the Poudre, once thing’s become clear. 2011 is likely to be one for the record books. In the spirit of the upcoming high water season, check out this article by Poudre River kayaking veteran John Moran as he reflects on paddling the Poudre at peak flows back in 1983. This was passed on to me by Marty Bell a few minutes ago and we thought you’d enjoy reading it too!
I was asked by Marty to see if I could dig back 28 years in to the depths of my memory to remember what the Poudre was like in that record year, 1983.
It was my 4th season on the Poudre. I just had just got done with a big water run of the Grand and got back to Colorado and it was raging. A run down Shoshone, by Glenwood, on the way home was like running Hermit. However it was still May and the best was yet to come: the highest recorded flows on the Poudre 6/21/1983 5970 cfs.
What that translated to was some of the greatest high water romps on the Poudre I have ever had. The Rustic Runs actually had eddies, while you couldn’t even run the Bridges because the Gray Rock bridge was under water. (They have since raised the bridge, it still may be tight at peak flows this year)
Below 3 way (Split rock) The high water mark was up to the middle of the lane. On the straight below you could look the passengers in car driving by right in the eye as you were bobbing along.
Upper Mish was stomping with nary an eddy and all the rocks in the entrance to Mish Falls were covered some of which where large nasty holes, followed by some river wide ledge wave holes.
We ran sections of Spencer Heights but we didn’t do the whole thing most of us put in at the picnic area where the Laramie River Tunnel comes in. A friend of mine put in a couple of drops above that and had the ride of his life.
I, being the wimp that I am, put in at the picnic area and immediately got stuck in a hole but managed to work my way out. Yes that’s a glass boat, designed by a guy in Boulder that use to have a kayak store. It incorporated the worst parts of several different designs all into one boat. The net result was I had no choice but to get better or give up boating. It was very hard to roll, liked to fall over backwards, couldn’t pass a hole without getting stuck, and was much happier upside down than right side up. He named it the Porpoise a friend of mine named it the Platypus, a much more accurate moniker.
There were even a few brave souls who ran the Lower Narrows. I remember looking at it and thinking “Ya there’s the line”! Then I saw a full size Ponderosa Pine go through and just disappear only to come rocketing out of the river about 30 yards downstream. I took a pass on the Narrows that day.
The South Fork was a series of micro eddies in the willows where the 1st person in to the eddy would grab hold and we’d stack up on them then someone would get out scout down and come back with a report something like this. “Well it’s clear for the next 30 yards then you have to move right to get around a tree then look for the next eddy.” That person had to climb back out over all the boats stacked up and got to go find the next eddy.
Even the Filter Plant was stomp’n. There were great big surfing waves and a couple of holes you could play in.
However the main thing I remember about 1983 was that the fun rock was covered for about 3 weeks, the boating seem to last until September and I had a great summer. So if this season measures up to even close to ’83 it will be an outstanding season for boating. Have fun, it may not come around for another 28 years.