Whitewater Kayaking Journal: Dozens of free kayak movies and Colorado river photos documenting daily progress of actor
preparing for role in the film Savage Snow. From absolute beginner on Paddle Day 1 to advanced big water paddler.
PADDLE DAY 8 - Two Colorado Rivers, One Broken Hand - First Day Kayaking in Colorado
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Colorado Rivers - Two in One Day (plus one broken hand)
First Day Kayaking in Colorado

Swollen and somewhat damaged left hand.
colorado river photos broken hand
Just above Lower Blue River put in.
colorado river photos - lower blue river put-in

It is the near the end of the season and not so easy to find groups to paddle with, but I am determined to get in the water during my housing search here in Colorado.

I hired a guide / instructor from Colorado Kayak Supply / Summit Kayak School to take me out on the Upper Colorado River's Pumphouse to Radium run. Will was my guide. He had a great attitude and was very encouraging.
The Upper C as this run is called was pretty high today. Will shows me some surf spots that are more powerful than any I have been in so far.
I am having fun and throw a few combat rolls during my surfing sessions and during stern squirt attempts. A stern squirt involves using the current and your paddle to drop your stern deep when crossing eddy lines, shooting the bow of the kayak into the air.

Surfing a gentle wave on the Lower Blue River.
colorado river photos - lower blue river surf
I had one glitch in the day that occurred after falling off the back of one of the stronger waves we surfed on the Upper Colorado River. I was flipped in the rapid and after a few failed roll attempts, I bailed.
Trying to keep things as simple as possible, I wanted to hold on to my boat and paddle. This way the instructor would not have to chase them down. However, we were still in the bottom portion of the rapid. I was trying to kick to the bank as I held a grab loop on the bow of the upside down boat with one hand and the paddle in my other hand. Unfortunately there was a barely submerged boulder that the boat was able to drift over ahead of me. The back of my hand impacted the boulder with the weight of several hundred pounds of waterlogged boat bearing down from above. I actually managed to keep my grip on the boat, but I should have never tried to stay with the boat in this rapid scenario. I later learned that you can flip the boat right side up if the conditions are safe enough and if there is no need to make a beeline to shore. Even waterlogged the boat would be easier to guide across the water right side up, and of course you would eliminate the risk of damaging your hand in the way that I did. Despite the discomfort, I quickly confirmed that I could hold the paddle when I got to the river's edge. I still had full use of my hand, but for the rest of the day whenever possible I submerged it in the frigid water trying to numb the pain.

Will encouraged me to get back in the boat quickly after my swim and start paddling as soon as possible to warm up, since the long swim in the VERY cold water had put me in jeopardy. He noticed that my lips had already turned blue and I was shivering uncontrollably. By the way, a normal kayaker would not be so deathly cold. I was using only a rented spray jacket instead of a true dry top which would have been much warmer for my lengthy swim. Also, this was at the end of the season and the air temperature was not helping. Incidentally, the only piece of equipment I own now is a helmet which I bought at the Nantahala River.

After our run on the Upper Colorado River, Will says I am doing so well that he would be comfortable taking me down the close by and more advanced Lower Blue River instead of running the Upper C again during this private session. Although I am still a little cold and the pain in my hand is quite "distinct", I feel confident with my paddling. My hand was fully functioning. It just hurt a bit.

Beautiful scenery on the Blue River.
colorado river photos - blue river photos
We did indeed proceed to the Lower Blue River put in just below the Green Mountain Reservoir. It's levels were unusually high today also. The water here was even colder than the Upper C, but I was careful not to be flipped on this run. I paddled a little more conservatively but still had fun surfing. I am glad to have had the chance to run this section of river. The wave trains we blasted through were beyond anything I have done so far. Paddling through waves crashing over my head was very exciting to say the least. I was talking to myself out loud, cheering myself on to keep paddling, trying to maintain momentum and control of the boat through the waves. There were also two very small waterfall drops created for irrigation purposes. They were a little intimidating but I ran them without incident.

The hand by the way turned out to have two small exterior bone fractures. Nothing to cause any permanent problems.
But I will have scars that will always be a reminder of my first day kayaking in Colorado rivers.
-Dan

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