Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Stomper and I go to Idaho

Last winter, I had to choose between going to Physician Assistant school in Idaho or Colorado, and after weeks of deliberation and angst, I chose Colorado, my home state.  To see what I was missing, I took a trip to Idaho this Spring with four fun female kayaker friends.  Needless to say, I had a severe case of regret over not choosing the PA program in Idaho simply for the quality of kayaking.  It was that good!

So, I sort of thought I knew this already, but it turns out you don't really know until you jump right in, especially if you live in a state where you often paddle on 150 cfs or less: big water is BIGGER from your boat than from the road.  After a fifteen hour drive, we got out of the car at the South Fork of the Payette.  It was pretty high, but after looking at the rapids in the Staircase section, we put on our gear with the attitude that it would be a fun warmup run.  Immediately after entering the first wave train, which looked so mild from the road, we realized that we couldn't power through things like we could at home. We had to use more finesse and set up for our lines much further ahead of time.  We got out to scout the biggest rapids again, at river level, and this time we got nervous, knowing which holes and waves would be friendly and which would flip us for sure.  But my Stomper performed better than I ever could have imagined, and I styled the lines.  I knew I loved it in the low-volume creeks back home, but I loved it more for keeping me on-line in powerful, exploding water.
 After a few runs on the Staircase, we got used to the disconnect between what we were seeing from the road and what we felt when we got in our boats.  We continued northward to the South Fork of the Clearwater, the Lochsa, and finally to the Selway, where to my surprise, and thanks to the Stomper, I felt in control in 24,000 cfs.  

I am happy to report that I moved to Denver from Southwestern Colorado last week, started PA school yesterday, and already had one of the best days of paddling of my season thus far on the Big South and the Poudre, despite the low water here on the front range, just two hours or so from my new home. 
SF Payette

Here are some photos.  Enjoy!

Annie on the Selway

Girl posse, SF Clearwater

One thing I love about kayaking: there are so many ways to have fun.
1st Gorge of Lime Creek

Oh, the packability! Upper Animas overnighter

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