Tuesday, November 08, 2011

CO Highwater Recap Part II: Wildcat canyon

Another memorable trip from this summer was Wildcat canyon. This is an impressive canyon of the South Platte River in the southern Front Range of Colorado. The run is usually referred to as Cheeseman, but I like to call it Wildcat since that’s on the map and it recalls a funny movie moment.

That we enjoy easy access to explore Wildcat canyon by kayak is due to American Whitewater. Thanks to persistence and lots of negotiation, AW brokered a deal allowing kayakers unfettered access to the ideal put-in for the run, so long as we call the local community landowners ahead of time. On this trip, we managed to briefly high center the shuttle rig under the load of 7 kayaks, kayakers and our gear as we were escorted through private property to one of the more scenic get-ins in Colorado.

Once on the water, the canyon does not waist too much time in beginning to drop. As with most of the State in July, Wildcat was running at high flow. We had close to 500 cfs, which turned out to be the high side of good for some of the rapids. The ample flow also had rearranged some timber, leaving some rapids unnrunable. The classic “slap yo moma” was out due to a giant tree blocking the exit to the falls. Next time…

Here are a few photos recounting the trip, and a video from the day.

Oliver paying his at Club Dues:


Tom following suit:


The waterfall entrance to Punji Stick was out of play with wood issues:


But half the crew earned the bottom of the rapid:


No denying that the canyon is an incredible place to spend the day. Maybe I will go back to fish.


A ‘tweener rapid that dished out some treats.


Kyle doing some downriver freestyle:


Jason enjoying the smooth granite and good flow:


In the end, we all got some good exercise that day. The choice to portage on this run comes easy when you see the sieves and undercuts that wait for offline paddlers. There aren’t too many places in Colorado with Cali-style granite boulder gardens though, so a trip to Wildcat is well worth it for qualified creekers (as soon as someone flosses the logs out…).

Boat waiting for a ride:


Gearing up to earn it:


The most memorable aspect of the run, for many, is the hike out. Hiking out in the heat of July was a bear, and one of our team experienced significant dehydration. The sight of your shuttle vehicle at the end of this day is a great relief!

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