On the River: Happy camper
September 16, 2005
Ever been to Kamp Krusty?It’s the summer camp Bart and Lisa Simpson look forward to all school year only to find when they arrive it’s located somewhere between the sixth and seventh circles of hell.I went there last weekend. It’s not as bad as they say – as long as you’re there for the kayaking.The Simpson kids never did get any whitewater in during that episode (although Lisa was about to step into a shoddy, sinking canoe when the current tore it away). No, they spent their days at the run-down camp roasting pine cones over the fire, eating imitation gruel, sewing imitation Gucci wallets under the threat of hoodlum counselors and just generally trying to remain alive.In the end, starvation, frustration and Bart lead the campers to overthrow the staff and descend into the anarchy of an animated “Lord of the Flies.”Apparently what’s left is near Kremmling below the spillway of the Green Mountain Reservoir. At least that’s what the sign says at some rundown camp there, near the put-in for the Lower Blue River.The location of the abandoned camp – complete with peeling white paint, boarded-up windows, grassy basketball court, and a sign that reads “Drinking water suitable for people and ticks” – at the put-it was a little ominous. Especially for a run we’d never done.But our experience was more enjoyable than our cartoon counterparts.The run starts with a put-in that lives up to the Kamp Krusty name. To get to the river, paddlers must negotiate a long, steep, dangerous embankment. With my boat on my shoulder, about halfway down I realized I’d have to let the kayak go the rest of the way by itself or I’d tumble down with it. I set it free and watched it careen into a small pine and come to rest intact.The actual river is far less exciting, with mostly class II and a couple of class III rapids. It’s a mild and scenic river that’s reminiscent of the wild and scenic Poudre River west of Fort Collins.Other than the frigid water that comes directly from the bottom of 2,100-acre Green Mountain Reservoir, a couple of small diversion dams are the biggest danger. But a fun, almost riverwide wave and the remoteness (didn’t see another soul) make it worth the three-hour drive. A far cry from Kamp Krusty.