By Em Shanblatt
Here’s what Mary Frances and I have been up in Durango to when we’re not teaching.
Our first destination was Durango, where we spend 5 days kayaking big water, surfing big waves, getting to know the Durango hotspots, and living in a parking lot! It was actually a very nice parking lot, and was located just behind 4 Corners River Sports, the outfitter we were teaching through. Plus, we were right on the shore of the Animas!
We woke up the first morning and paddled parts of the Animas town run! There were tons of good waves to surf, but since neither MF or I consider ourselves playboaters, we spent most of our energy just trying to catch the waves rather than play on them.
In the afternoon, some really nice guys from 4 Corners, Drew and Cruise, took us out to run the Piedra – a beautiful class 4 creek with lots of water and a stunning gorge section. We’re quickly learning that class 4 in colorado feels very different than class 4 in North Carolina. We saw some big holes, huge waves, and fast water! Nevertheless, we had a blast!
The following day I went out with some local boys to Cascade Creek (3rd gorge of the Lime) & the Upper Animas. The hiking approach to the river was a couple miles, so my new friend Cruise let me borrow his kayak backpack! It was harder to balance than I had expected, but still much easier than shouldering my Mamba the whole way down. The creek was fast, continuous, reactionary, and SO MUCH FUN! I was pretty gripped, but tried to relax a couple of times and look up at the towering, vertical, granite walls rising above on both sides of the river. I LOVED how the Mamba handled the big water! It’s incredibly stable and punches through waves and holes like it ain’t no thang! I felt super confident in it, and am stoked to keep paddling it in this big water! The Upper Animas was 8 miles of continuous, big BIG water. Huge waves, and huge holes to avoid as well. We didn’t stop the entire stretch. Paddling in Colorado is a workout!
The weekend brought the annual Animas River Days festival! MF and I taught both days (check out the blog post on how the clinics went!). Saturday evening we decided to rally and participate in the RIVER PARADE! We put on our matching GAP outfits, and paddled in the parade as the GAP twins! So. Much. Fun!
We spent Monday taking rest day off the water, and decided to check out Mesa Verde National Park – the site of the prehistoric Puebloeans. MF and I and learned a ton, and earned our Junior Ranges badges! You’re never too old…
Thanks for an awesome week Durango! We’ll definitely be back next summer! Now we’re off to Salida & Buena Vista to paddle the Arkansas and hang out at FIBArk!