Rivers running; paddlers smiling | AspenTimes.com

Rivers running; paddlers smiling

Janet Urquhart
Matt Mitchell, front, and Dylan Regan, barkeeps at Jimmys, run the upper Roaring Fork River on Thursday. Aspen Times photo/Jim Noelker.

Things are going from gurgling to gushing, and the river rats are ready.A streak of warm weather – call it hot for Aspen – began Thursday and is expected to continue through the weekend. Already yesterday, the Roaring Fork River was swelling with evidence of melting snow in the high country.The Fork was running at 180 cubic feet per second below town yesterday morning; by mid-afternoon, it was at 396 cfs. The Colorado River at Shoshone was running at 2,800 cfs in the morning and had risen to 3,120 cfs by afternoon.It’s time for paddlers to play.

Whitewater enthusiasts started buzzing when the National Weather Service issued an alert for high stream flows this weekend, according to Aspen Whitewater Rafting. A ridge of high pressure is expected to produce the warmest temperatures so far this year.The real key, though, is warm nights, according to Bob Harris, owner of Blazing Adventures, headquartered in Snowmass Village. Flows are still slacking off with cold overnight temperatures, which is just fine with him.”I’d just as soon see it warm up slowly and come down slowly,” he said. “I’m not looking for it to come up huge this weekend.”Nonetheless, various stretches are already producing fun – Shoshone in Glenwood Canyon, for example, is luring boaters. The upper Roaring Fork and Slaughterhouse Falls below Aspen will be raftable soon, Harris predicted.

Kayakers are finding early thrills at Slaughterhouse, Shoshone and the Crystal River south of Carbondale, though all three rivers are still on the rise.”The Crystal is in pretty good shape right now, and people are starting to paddle the upper Roaring Fork at Slaughterhouse,” reported Bob Durand, owner of Colorado Canoe and Kayak in Glenwood Springs. “In a couple of days, it should be really good.””The Crystal is good right now. It will only get better and gnarlier,” Harris added.But the spring runoff means debris in the water, Durand cautioned.

“As the water rises, things get faster and more dangerous – and more fun,” he said.Blazing Adventures is offering a locals’ special right now, with daily trips on the Fork and at Shoshone for $35 to $50, according to Harris.Aspen Whitewater Rafting is also offering an early season deal with two different trips on the Fork for $35.Several rafting companies in Glenwood Springs are also available.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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