On the River: Past the peak? | AspenTimes.com

On the River: Past the peak?

Janet Urquhart

Peak flows are a tricky thing – you may not know it when you see it.In fact, the high-water mark on local rivers may have passed last week, when hot temperatures and a May 22 deluge pushed the upper Roaring Fork River toward 1,700 cubic feet per second on May 23.Flows subsequently plummeted with a weekend cold snap (Sunday night’s 27 degrees in Aspen was the coldest overnight low for that date in 52 years), leading at least some local river runners to think the best isn’t yet to come, but already gone.Brian Wright, co-owner of Glenwood Canyon Kayak, is happy to say he ran Slaughterhouse Falls on the Fork below Aspen on the 23rd. Chances are he hit it just right.”You wait all year for the runoff, and it’s gone in a couple of weeks,” he lamented.Jim Ingram, owner of Aspen Whitewater Rafting, also suspects the upper Fork hit its max last week.”It’s unfortunate we’re not going to see the 2,000 [cfs] flows that we were expecting,” he said.With the relatively hot spring, Ingram doesn’t expect rafting through the Slaughterhouse section to extend into July, but it should be good through June.But Bob Harris, owner of Blazing Adventures, says the Fork will rise again.”I’m thinking June 10 – somewhere in there we’ll probably see another peak,” he said. “It’s going to come back up. It’ll be nice. The Fork has yet to give us a good, solid peak.”Harris is predicting a second peak in the 1,600- to 1,700-cfs range.The Colorado River at Shoshone in Glenwood Canyon, however, has likely hit its high point, Harris and Wright agreed. That stretch of the Colorado (measured at Dotsero) rose to more than 9,000 cfs last week, according to Wright. It was flowing at slightly more than 4,300 cfs by midafternoon Wednesday.The Crystal River has probably peaked as well, Wright said, but its flows remain above 800 cfs at Avalanche Creek.The Fryingpan, where last week’s unusual 800 cfs flows lured paddlers to water that doesn’t typically support kayaking, was back to a more typical 286 cfs Wednesday afternoon.

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