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Eagle County water is looking big

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
TMG Teva 8-Ball DT 5-30-07
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EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado” Remember all that snow that fell this winter and spring, and, that may fall yet again?

Well, it melts.

And in case you haven’t taken a look at the local rivers, all you have to do is listen ” the water is rushing.

“The water is coming up really quick,” said Lisa Glaser, who works at Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards. “The (Dowd) chute is already at five-and-a-half to six feet.”

And rising.

“It’s higher than I’ve ever seen it and I don’t think the snow has even really started to melt in East Vail,” said kayaker Lonnie Leto.

All this bodes well for avid kayakers and rafters.

“Everyone is calling me. My staff is so excited. We haven’t seen this snowpack in the area for a long time,” said Karl Borski at Lakota River Guides.

The Avon whitewater park, which opened last year, is already a hot spot this season.

“It’s been awesome,” Leto said. “They fixed the eddy so you are able to get back into the features.”

With the large flows, the man-made features are coming into play at the Avon park, while most sections of the Eagle River are running at a higher class level than normal.

“This is the year to learn how to raft or kayak,” said Ken Hoeve, a kayaker who paddled the entire Eagle River Wednesday and then got out on his surfboard to catch a wave in the Avon park Thursday.

Beginners beware: big water can be trouble.

“Pick the appropriate stuff,” Hoeve said. “Although it’s big and rugged, you can always go down to sections of the river between Eagle and Gypsum.”

No matter how tempting some big rapids look to rafting guides, they will be sure to keep their clientele away from unmanageable stretches.

“We have such a luxury around here in that there are always options,” said Lisa Reeder of Timberline Tours. “We could go (west) and put in at Grizzly Creek and run to the south canyon. Everything down there is still so much fun.”

For the die-hards, though, the bigger the water is welcomed.

“Everybody is really happy,” Glaser said. “A lot of people are coming in to buy new gear and bigger boats.”

But event amateurs should heed caution.

“If you don’t know what you are doing, don’t go in there,” Hoeve said.

Last winter, a snowy February got boaters excited, but a warm March tempered their expectations.

“This year I was a little apprehensive in the beginning because it was such a dry start,” Borski said. “I never count my chickens until late season, when it’s spring, when you get into March, you say, how’s it going to look?

“We all want it to start flowing (early), but in the big picture of things, you look for more water later.”

With such a large snowpack and snow falling deep into May, boaters are expecting a sustained high flow this season.

“The nicest runoff is when we have a few warm days, then it cools down again. It makes it perfect,” said Susi Larson at Whitewater Rafting in Glenwood Springs.

If the current temperature trends continue, the water should be at great levels for next month’s Teva Mountain Games, which will bring in top kayakers and rafters from all over the globe.

“The Teva Games are going to be great,” said Leto, who hopes to compete in the down river sprint race, which will be in Vail this year. “That area is actually more mellow. It’s a big difference from Dowd chute, which is a solid Class IV. Vail is a good Class III, but it’s only 10 feet wide, so it’s less intimidating.”

To see river flows, check out pictures or post your thought, go to http://www.mountainbuzz.com

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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