Select Page

By Joe Keck

October 23, 2006

Hey all you out there in the Jackson world, I wanted to write in about the awesome rains we had this fall in Durango, CO. In early October, there were mysterious predictions that the Colorado river near Westwater would go to 13,000cfs, which is ridiculous for this time of year in the arid West. Needless to say, I had my doubts, but started researching. Sure enough, the forecasters stood by their predictions and also mentioned that the rain would hit Durango. By Friday night, October 6, the Animas had started to rise and the creeking team assembled. The buzz through the boating community was similar to the palpable excitement I felt when I rolled into Asheville for the first time in the middle of Hurricane Frances.

I have run the Upper Animas, but really wanted personal first Ds of the local classic creeks (1st Gorge of Lime, Vallecito, South Mineral, and on and on). Unfortunately as we rolled into town before dawn on Saturday, the torrential rains continued and the Animas had risen to almost 8,000cfs – the second highest flow in the last 12 years! Truly epic in a state that rarely has any boating in late fall and is entirely dependent upon snowmelt.

Everything was blown out, but we were determined to get after it. Vallecito ran 3,000cfs, which ruined hopes that Lime creek might have been low enough. We settled for the Piedra at high water after finding the West Fork of the San Juan was also flooding. On day two, we hiked into the third gorge of Lime (Cascade) Creek at low flood stage and ran it through the Rockwood box. A quick stop at Canyon Creek found it juicing as well, so we all passed on its 600+ feet per mile. Finally, on the third day things had relaxed enough for us to go creeking and get on the infrequently run West Fork of the San Juan. The West Fork is another beautifully high speed, eddyless, wilderness, Colorado-style class V creek run.

On the last two days, we assembled 12 people from all reaches of the state to run 1st Gorge of Lime creek. On our first run, we were well above the snow line at the put-in and big flakes landed in my eyes during demanding boofs. 1st Gorge has it all. Demanding waterfalls, committed unscoutable gorge rapids, and high alpine scenery along with quick laps make it a masterpiece. Too bad the aspen leaves had fallen, but we had a fantastic Colorado week of boating, October 7-11, 2006.

Thanks to Chris and Scotty for the great photos.


Click to view larger image

Lime put in