Colorado's Arkansas River
Early in the summer as I started to learn more about the runs that are available, I set "The Numbers" as my main goal for this season, with Gore Canyon as my second goal if time permitted.
I accompanied Lisa, Eric, and Jay again. They camped by the Arkansas River last night after kayaking the Royal Gorge yesterday. The Numbers is close enough to my house that I just came home after paddling the Royal Gorge to get some work done on my computer. I met them early the next morning to do the Numbers.
Just as yesterday, it was great to have some experienced boaters go down a run with me for my first descent. For the most part The Numbers is a read and run passage on the river. We only scouted #5 because it is known for causing the most carnage. There is one big drop right at the top of #5 that can easily flip you. You can watch me get flipped in the video above. If you don't recover relatively quickly, there can be some consequences because of the continuing rapids.
The flow was a little under 1000 cfs today.
At this level, the Numbers was probably a mild Class 4 at most, but it is constant action with no long delays between the rapids. With both The Numbers today and the Royal Gorge yesterday flowing around 1000 cfs, I would compare the two by saying the Royal Gorge's rapids had a more dramatic and big water feel. Paddling the Royal Gorge is also more of an "event." The geologic formations of the Royal Gorge add a strong visual interest to the affair.
But ... kayaking The Numbers is a non-stop roller coaster ride. Plenty of action all the way down with some nice play spots.
The rapids are much more heavily concentrated on The Numbers compared to the Royal Gorge.
I was fortunate to run both the Royal Gorge and the Numbers at ideal "first run" water levels.
I am sure both runs are more intense at higher levels earlier in the season.
Because of its proximity to my home, and the sheer number of rapids packed together unlike any other run I have been on before, I give The Numbers the title of "my favorite kayak run" at this point. I look forward to running it more this season before it dries up, as well as running it at higher levels early next season.
Many boaters simply retrofit a kayak to let them sit on their knees. This way they can be up high enough to use a single bladed paddle, reaching over both sides of the kayak with a never changing two handed grip, just like in a canoe. A C1 kayak modification allows the canoeists to continue using the single blade skills they have already developed.
We met Paul, an expert C1 kayaker, at the put in for the Numbers. He was looking for a group to join and we welcomed him along on our run.
Interestingly, if a swim becomes mandatory, a C1 kayaker has to pull the skirt, and then also pull a buckle on a strap that goes over the thighs. You can see the thigh strap in this photo because Paul's skirt has not been sealed yet. Without the extra thigh strap, the C1'ers would bounce right out of the boat when right side up in rapids, and fall out when upside down. Kayakers are able to stay in their boats mostly because their legs are wedged up under the bow.
Don't worry, leeches aren't swarming in the whitewater waiting to attach when you get flipped in a rapid. :-)
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