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For many years, I dreamt about paddling the spring runoff in Colorado. I watched videos of Oh Be Joyful and Vallecito in aw of their beauty. Lucky for me, this year, I got to go, and it was awesome!

On June 3rd, Brian and Landon Miller, Matteo Williams, and I set out on a 9 day water-chasing trip. Our first stop was in Crested Butte, home to Oh Be Joyful, a classic American run. It is one of the steepest, most beautiful sections of whitewater I have ever paddled in my life. The put in is surrounded by mountains, and the first rapid, just 10 feet below the put in eddy, is a clean, 15ish foot drop! What follows is an awesome collection of class IV boogie, slides, and waterfalls which all adds up to an epic run to say the least.

For the first two days, this was all we ran as the altitude wore us out being from Western North Carolina, but things changed after that. On day three, we hooked up with some other guys from back home who opted to take us down Daisy Creek, a tamer run up the road. Daisy takes more water to run than OBJ which means you can run OBJ in the morning/noon and then Daisy in the afternoon or evening.

What makes Daisy a sick run, is it’s simplicity: straight down the middle (most of the time)! While this rule is generally the same on OBJ, this is almost entirely the case on Daisy, and at the end of that, you get to finish things off with the 22 footer, Big Woody Falls. Quite possibly one of the coolest drops I’ve ever done, Woody’s entrance is like a canal, and then suddenly everything drops off.

We stayed in this area for another couple days, totaling at 5 days. Not only is the kayaking really great in Crested Butte, the mountain biking, hiking, scenery, and all-around vibe makes for a killer area to hang out; I’m definitely coming back soon! Sadly, water flows were running low, so it was time to head to the next destination, Durango!

By the time we reached Durango, it was too late to do any creeking, so we opted to go do some freestyle instead! We pulled into the whitewater park, took out our rockstar 4.0’s, and threw down in the main freestyle feature. The wave was incredibly fast and trashy with a large pile. This made it tough to throw tricks and incredibly sticky which wore me out quickly! I hadn’t surfed a wave like this in a long time so I spent awhile getting comfortable, but by the end of the session, I was able to throw some blunts, back panams, and mcnasties.
The following morning, we set out to Lime Creek. This run was interesting: tight, rocky, blind, and minimal stopping. The highlight of the run is Adrenaline Falls, a 25 foot drop with an entrance just a little wider than my Nirvana. Thankfully, we all had clean lines down it and continued on stoked as could be!

The following day, we rallied to one more session at the whitewater park before heading south to our last run of the trip, Vallecito.
We arrived at the campsite at the base of the Vallecito run late at night. The next morning we are a quick breakfast and met with some locals who were happy to show us down the river. Arriving at the put in after a short, arduous hike, the first thing I noticed was the clear, blue water and smooth rocks. The other runs we had done all had sharp, jagged rocks due to road creation, so this was a relief for our poor boats. The whitewater itself was world class! Epic sequences of drops and tight maneuvers left me smiling and howling the whole way down. For anyone in the Durango area, this is a must! Even if you don’t want to run it, the hiking alone was beautiful! Landon and I did another lap with a couple of the remaining locals. Afterwards, we cooled off in a flat water spot and did a little fishing. The next day, the four of us did one last lap before packing up to head home. While I was sad to leave, over a week of carrying my boat 2+ miles close to every day was leaving my shoulder a little sore, so I wasn’t too upset.

This was a trip for the books. It was so exciting being able to have the experience of paddling in a different part of the country along with some of my oldest friends. Can’t wait for more epic adventures to come!