Colorado Update – Getting Joyful in Crested Butte


By Em Shanblatt

The Girls at Play summer tour in Colorado has officially found the most beautiful place yet.  As Mary Frances and I rolled into the town of Crested Butte over Monarch Pass, we were blown away and speechless at the immensity and grandeur of the mountains and scenery that lay before us.

We met up with some friends of Girls at Play, Heather and Chris Woodward (Heather came to Mexico with GAP in 2011) who graciously took us paddling, showed us the town, and put us up for a couple of nights.   Our first paddling destination was the Upper Taylor, the Woodward’s home run located about 20 minutes from their doorstep!  It’s a fun class III+ boulder garden run with lots of cool eddies to catch, waves to surf, and rocks to boof!

Mary Frances, Heather, and Em on the Upper Taylor

We also checked out the Secret Stash, which is my new favorite pizza joint of all time.  If you’ve ever in Crested Butte, it’s a must make stop!

Tuesday we woke up decided to check out the famous creek, Oh Be Joyful!  This run has been on my list since I first heard about it 3 years ago.  Seeing it in person was like meeting your celebrity crush.  My jaw dropped when I got my first sight, and I instantly knew I wanted it…bad.

We scouted the run, and I met up with some folks who were going to run it the next morning.  We set a time…I was committed.  MF and I headed back to town to run the Upper Taylor with the Woodwards again…so fun, can’t get enough!

I shot out of bed in the morning, knowing it was game time.  MF, Chris and I drove the short 30 minute drive to the OBJ campground where I met my crew and started hiking!  It was a long, hot, and tiring approach.  Just over a mile, uphill.

hiking up

My new friend Nathan showing me some lines

Mary Frances took some BEAUTIFUL scenic shots during the approach hike

Although there weren’t many people at OBJ this morning, there’s only one put in site.   You peel out and have about 10 feet till the first drop – a clean 18 foot autoboof.  Because only one person can go at a time though, I ended up waiting in anticipation for my turn, getting more and more nervous/excited every minute.

waiting to put on

Finally my turn came, and I peeled out onto Oh Be Joyful.  Such a surreal moment.

at the lip of the 18 footer

We boogied down what’s known as the “waterfall section” pretty quickly, since the run is so continuous and steep.  The eddies were small and hard to fit multiple boats in, so we just kept moving!

Another woman on OBJ!  Here’s Samantha Ruppelt after the first slide

steep creek boogie

The crux of this top section is the 25 foot waterfall…Oh Be Joyful falls.  The entrance is fast, but the line is clear and clean.  I hit my line dead on!  Didn’t take the greatest boof stroke, and ended up going pretty deep.  Still, the largest drop I’ve ever run!

Me feeling small on the 25 footer.  MF took this beautiful money shot!

After the waterfall section, the water was continuing to rise  as the day got hotter, and the holes in the slide section were looking pretty burly.  I had gotten my thrill, and decided to hike out.  I’ll be back next year for part 2 for sure!

This was such an incredible and fulfilling run!  MF and I had to keep moving though, so we packed up and headed through Kebler Pass to find a campsite to stay.  We came across the jackpot.

In the morning, as the sun came up, the lighting was so perfect we couldn’t help but take a little photo shoot.  We’re also sporting our Eddie Bauer First Ascent gear (Em in the fleece and MF in the down vest).  We love this stuff and wear it ALL. THE. TIME.

more fun up Kebler Pass!

Between the hospitality of the Woodwards, the beautiful scenery, and the great whitewater of the Taylor and OBJ, Mary Frances and I had a absolute blast in Crested Butte.

We’re now headed off to Vail & Glenwood Springs for our final weekend of clinics in Colorado!  See ya there!

If you would like to join us for one of our other on water adventures check out our weekend clinics and wintertime Mexico adventures!