Early start for kayakers, rafters | VailDaily.com

Early start for kayakers, rafters

Preston Utley/Vail DailyAndrew Waters of Vail paddles upstream in a play area along the Eagle River Wednesday in Eagle Vail.

VAIL ” The rivers are rising, the temperatures are warming, and Stevo Parker is taking to the water about three times a week.

Parker, a local kayaker, has been on the Colorado River a lot so far this year, and this week, the Eagle River had enough water for kayaking, he said.

The time is now for kayakers to enjoy the water from the spring runoff, he said.

“The Eagle’s happening now,” he said. “Everyone should be getting out there on the Eagle.”

The Eagle River was running at 1,010 cubic feet per second on Wednesday, double compared to last week.

“It’s looking really good for this time of year,” Parker said. “The warm weather we’ve had the last four days really brought us up quite a bit.”

Parker said he’s hoping for a slow, steady runoff to allow for a long season, but there are lots of variables that could affect the water for the rest of the year, he said.

Spring snows in the High Country could help the runoff, or two weeks of 90-degree weather could melt the snowpack at once.

“Who knows what’s going to happen,” he said.

Vail and Beaver Creek mountains’ snow totals this year were close to average. Vail had 347 inches for the year, compared to its average of 348 inches.

According to the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, the snowpack for Vail Mountain, Fremont Pass and Copper Mountain peaked late last month at about 57 inches and is now dwindling. On average, the snowpack peaks at 60 inches on May 1.

Alpine Quest Sports’ first kayak classes of the season, which were last weekend, were full, said owner Sean Glackin.

“People are getting out there,” he said.

Late-season snow helped the paddle season a lot, Glackin said.

“Snowpack-wise, we’re back to where we were at this time last year,” he said.

Doug Schofield, head guide for Lakota River Guides, said warm weather in March

melted away some of the snow.

“It’s definitely starting a little bit earlier than we normally see,” he said.

Lakota is starting raft trips on the Eagle River this week. If it stays warm, it could be a short season for rafting on the Eagle River, Schofield said.

“If it stays cold, it will prolong the season, and if it warms up it will go pretty quick,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

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