Whitewater Kayaking Journal: Dozens of free kayak movies and whitewater 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 25 - Arkansas River Brown's Canyon, Zoom Flume Rapid & Buena Vista Whitewater Park
Zoom Flume Rapid Arkansas River Brown's Canyon 1
Zoom Flume Rapid Arkansas River Brown's Canyon 2 Zoom Flume Rapid Arkansas River Brown's Canyon 3 Zoom Flume Rapid Arkansas River Brown's Canyon 4 Zoom Flume Rapid Arkansas River Brown's Canyon 5

"Zoom Flume Rapid" in Arkansas River Brown's Canyon
& "Rescued" in Buena Vista Whitewater Park

Zoom Flume Rapid during my first descent through Arkansas River Brown's Canyon.
Zoom Flume Rapid Arkansas River Brown's Canyon 6

Brown's Canyon on the Arkansas River is the most popular rafting run in the US. Rafting companies are scattered all along Colorado's Highway 285, parallel to the river.

Books and rafting companies refer to Brown's Canyon as a Class III & IV run, but locals tend to consider it only a Class III at typical levels.

But river rankings are somewhat subjective. Once you know a river section well, your perception of its difficulty obviously changes. At levels of around 1000 cfs, Brown's Canyon may not be a Class IV, but it certainly is a strong III or III+.
I perceive it to be a notable step up from Class III Shoshone.

Hiking downstream to scout Zoom Flume rapid.
Zoom Flume Rapid Arkansas River Brown's Canyon 7
Lower section of Zoom Flume rapid from above.
Zoom Flume Rapid Arkansas River Brown's Canyon 8

I joined an informal group of 7 to run the Arkansas River Brown's Canyon section for my first time today. There were several expert boaters in the group, including Jim (Paddle Day 10) and Greg of CKS, who were very generous in providing guidance to those who needed it.

Brown's Canyon is the perfect run for me at my current level. It features a variety of challenges and is loads of fun. I was very pleased to make it through the whole run today without being involuntarily flipped.

I included the two movie files below for those who would like to see part of Zoom Flume in motion. You can see the lower portion of Zoom Flume rapid in these clips. For an advanced boater, I imagine the Brown's Canyon Zoom Flume rapid falls into the "read and run" category. At my skill level, I was very happy to be with a group that was willing to wait while some of us scouted it. It is the only rapid on the run that any of us got out to look at. There is a convenient beach for parking your boat just before Zoom Flume's first drop.

Heidi to the Rescue

Heidi shortly after aiding in my Buena Vista rescue.
Buena Vista Whitewater Park 1
After running Brown's Canyon, a few of us decided to drive up to the new BV playwave. It is a single artificially created wave/hole on the Arkansas River in the Buena Vista whitewater park.

The wave was created by placing massive boulders on the river bed in the low water off season. The hydraulic designers did an excellent job and achieved a great result in this, its first season.
Unfortunately, the super high water flow from the excellent Colorado snowpack this season washed out some of the boulders and diminished the performance of the wave after the initial high water flush from the mountains.

We will have to wait until next year for the wave to be retuned. The designers will reposition the boulders during the low water off season. People still try to use the wave, but it is very uncooperative in its current state.

My incredibly satisfying experience in Brown's Canyon was unfortunately capped by an unpleasant swim in the Buena Vista whitewater park.

I got flipped pretty quickly on my first attempt to ride the unfriendly BV playwave.
I then hit my shoulder on an underwater boulder near the left eddy. The impact was not too hard but it definitely got my attention. I am missing multiple roll attempts at this point. I am not too tired and I am able to grab breaths of air between attempts, but I am beginning to become a little worried about how far downstream I am heading in the fast moving water.

I am aware of an unknown kayaker approaching me to help because of the brief above surface views I get between roll attempts. This boater was trying to offer me a bow rescue, which is a technique that involves grabbing the bow of another boat to help right yourself. I have practiced these before, but never done one in a combat situation. I didn't realize at the time my rescuer was close enough to consider trying one. I was still focusing on my roll attempts.

Another pair of sunglasses sacrificed to Arkansas River.
Buena Vista Whitewater Park 2
Eventually, fear and the desire to live took over completely and I decided to swim, still not thinking of the bow rescue option. I am now pretty far downstream in strong current. It would have been difficult to get myself out with my boat at this location if there had been no one to help. I ended up with a few marks on my legs from boulder impacts but I am all in one piece. My rescuer's name was Heidi. Afterward, Heidi also got stuck with a hike back upstream to the park.

Heidi's assistance was greatly appreciated. I wish I was sharp enough to realize her bow was so close before I swam. It would have saved us both a long hike.

And of course I wish I could expel my mental roll quirks that apparently are still haunting me after my disturbing last day on Shoshone.
But at least I met another nice kayaker as a result of this swim.

During my chat with Heidi, I discovered she is wearing an interesting flotation vest. Her PFD is an Astral Buoyancy Company prototype. This new company's first products are just coming to market now. Heidi has been doing product testing for them.
I hope I get to paddle with Heidi again one day, under better circumstances.

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