In the amazing guidebook to the rockies (WWSR) there is a section on the back of the book that has lists of check-offs, such as best after work runs, best hike in runs, most likely places to swim and expedition test pieces. The list consists of the best 5 runs to test your expedition skills on and consists of: Hellsgate of tonto creek (AZ), Black Canyon (CO), Rio Brazo (NM), Bull lake creek (WY), The box (WY).
This year was a pretty dismal snowpack for colorado with most runs not seeing enough flow to boat but lucky for me I just moved to Durango. This year was amazing down here if you like running valliceto and pandoras box (and who wouldn’t?), they were in for 3 months at great levels. Together with being the top runs in the region in both difficulty and quality, they both make you work for your whitewater or as the local boys say “keeps the rif raf away”. Expedition boating along with great skill takes two main factors, being in shape and mental strength to paddle all day, two things living in durango with allow you to practice.
Having already completed 3 of the 5 runs on the list this year looked like the year to check em all off. Lucky for me I was able to have a good combination of flow and access to get to the rio brazo and find another person to hike 18 miles into bull lake at high water. And I was also able to do another run on the list (Black canyon) twice in one day and complete a 3 day mission on the north fork of the little wind.
Expedition paddling is what drives me (and lots of other boater) because it gets you away from the world for a few days and allows complete focus on just kayaking. The list in WWSR is a great spot to look for anyone looking to test themselves and to get on the best whitewater the region has to offer. Maybe someone can get them all done in a season, that would be fun wouldn’t it…….
Enjoy some of the pics!