First Time Down Cherry Creek

Well, even though competition season is over and I’m back home, that doesn’t mean all the fun has ended! After being home only a week from 3 months in Europe, I was able to get out on a run I’d been dying to go on for several years now, Cherry Creek, in California! I have always been out training or competing when it was running, but this year, I finally got back in time! I was able  to do it with an amazing crew consisting of fellow team JK paddler Phil Boyer, Pete Delosa, and Wes. My mom and I drove over the night before and camped near the takeout.

The next day, we had a fairly chill morning, moving towards the putin by 8:30. It was a longer drive down, but once we were in the canyon and at the putin, the stoke kicked in (yes, I got hyper)!  I hadn’t been in my creek boat for 4 months, having only been back in it once, two days before. It felt so good to be back and be able to hit rocks! The 7.75 mile run started out with some easy class 4 boogie water warm up and then the fun started! After a lot of big boofs, tight slots, and big water, we floated up to Mushroom (the first “big” one). We hopped out to scout the top, which consisted of two boofs on the right, to a move back left to avoid sieves, and an undercut, but the bottom half of the rapid was blocked from sight. After picking a couple markers so I could know when I should start making moves, I jumped back in my boat and followed Phil down the first two boofs, making the move back left, and coming around the corner to see a massive mushroom rock that I was supposed to go over and drive back right to avoid a hole. Before I knew it, I was at the bottom with a huge grin and lots of stoke on my line!

We navigated a couple miles of big rapids and the got to the Miracle Mile- A mile of class 5 whitewater that drops over 200 feet per mile (where as the rest of the river averages 108 fpm)! It was non stop, amazing, white madness!! Once we were through the Miracle Mile, we stopped, had a quick lunch and were back on the move again. We rallied through a lot more sweet stouts and got to the biggest rapid of the day, Lumsden Falls! We hopped out to scout (it was massive!!) and watched Pete show a stunning demo of the rapid. I was a bit uncertain at first about whether I wanted to run it or not. I was a little worried about the hole at the bottom being sticky so I decided to walk it. However, while I was walking back up, I started envisioning myself running it (I have a very hard time saying no to a rapid when I can see every stroke I need to take and exactly where I need to be), so I started asking Phil some questions about the hole. After confirming it wasn’t sticky, I decided to run it! We ferried over to river right to get some better markers, once discussing a bit more, we jumped in our boats and ferried out to the middle. As soon as I paddled over the lip, everything seemed to go into slow motion, I knew exactly where I was and exactly what strokes I needed to take. A few forward strokes and draws later, I was already at the bottom with an awesome line and big excitement all around. We finished the last few miles and arrived at the take out in one piece! Big thanks to Phil, Pete, and Wes for the lead down, couldn’t have asked for a better crew for my first time!

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(Pic Credit: Seth Dow, Paddlers: Anna Wagner & Sam Swanson)

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