Colorado Runoff…River Surfing Fever Strikes the Badfish Crew
The snow is melting in the mountains of Colorado and high water is here…can you smell it? I can. Its hard to explain the energy that runs through mountain based paddlers and surfers this time of year when the sun is high enough in the sky and winter has finally relented in the high country. Anyone who loves running rivers in the west understands.
There is a time before run off when you know its coming and the anticipation is brutal. I obsessively check gauges in the morning for any sign that the snow is starting to budge and seek out other like minded folks for quick conversations in the bar or coffee shop that are pure conjecture and speculation. When’s it going to let go, how big is it going to be, how long will it last? Half-baked theories, rumours and beliefs approaching the spiritual abound. One old time boater told me that when the “head” of the snow field on Mt. Shavano, that looks like an angel, gets decapitated…run off is over. I can see that angel from my bedroom window and I check it every morning this time of year.
Run off is the most finite of resources and the fact that you are on borrowed time from the first day the river turns brown is what makes this time of year so electric. In the winter a snow storm might dump snow on us and there will be a run of powder days. Productivity goes way down as people blow everything off for blower snow. But if you miss a powder day here or there the hope of another one at least keeps you from being too down. However if you miss run off, best case scenario you are waiting 10-11 months…and god help you if its a lean winter.
Last winter was not a lean winter. The rivers are swollen here in Colorado and it is most definitely on. Very little work is getting done and the Badfish SUP crew has been surfing our home spots on the Arkansas River hard. A few days ago the Glenwood Springs Wave on the mighty Colorado River came in to levels not seen since 2011. The crew scattered and quickly reconvened on the other side of the mountains and some epic shredding has ensued. We will be no doubt be sharing images and video from these days for the next few months, but here are a few shots from team photog Heather Jackson.
So here’s to run off, celebrating the moment and trying to soak up the stoke while its here. -Mike Harvey, Salida, CO