Stay informed of news and announcements about the Colorado rivers and community we love.
  • 05/29/2016 3:45 PM | Anonymous

    By Jessie Gunter

    I moved from Virginia to Colorado last year right before boating season started here. I was a beginner boater with some experience but definitely in need of solid boater friends to show me down the runs here. I didn’t know about the Facebook groups or CW, so I went to roll sessions and started asking around. Someone directed me to the Front Range Kayakers Facebook group, where I patiently stalked every post hoping for someone to post about a Class II–III trip. And alas! A CW member posted that he was running Grizzly Creek and anyone was welcome to join. I went, had an awesome time, and learned about Training Camp, which was a few weeks away.

    After meeting folks at Training Camp and getting plugged into the CW network, I started going on cruises. It was an invaluable resource for me to get to know the rivers and make other boater friends in the area.

    I decided to get involved in planning cruises for CW because I think that getting people out on the water safely is one of the most important functions of the club. I sent out a survey for members’ input regarding cruises in February and received 122 responses (thanks, everyone)! Using the feedback from the survey, I started reaching out to folks who said they’d be interested in leading. My vision is to have a cruise on the calendar for at least one day of every weekend—hopefully both. I also wanted to make sure there were cruises for intermediate boaters looking to step up their game in addition to the classic beginner runs such as the Milk Run, Apple Valley, Pumphouse, and Deckers.

    Thanks to many incredible members who responded to my call for leaders, we have been able to achieve this for the first half of the summer (I’m still working on the second half). These experienced boaters, many of them first-time CW cruise leaders, are providing an invaluable contribution to the boating community. Thanks to these volunteers, more people will safely enjoy Colorado’s beautiful rivers—what could be better?

    If you’re interested in leading a cruise in the coming months, please contact me (Jessie) at Pretty much any section, Class II–IV, is fair game. I have some specific sections I’d love to get on the calendar as well, such as Shoshone (III+) and Grizzly Creek (II+) on the Colorado and Royal Gorge on the Arkansas (III–IV).

    If you’re planning to go on cruises this year, enjoy! There are plenty of opportunities to get out on the river with CW this year. A few reminders:

    •  Please be courteous and communicative with your volunteer leaders before the trip.
    •  Don’t forget to print, sign, and bring your waiver with you to give to the cruise leader (waiver can be found at
    • Be safe and boat within your ability.
    • For insurance reasons, only active CW members are allowed to come on cruises.

    If you want to know more about our cruises, the website is a good place to start. Feel free to contact me with any questions, as well.


    Jessie Gunter has informed her non-boater friends that she will see them in the fall.

    Photos by Gale Tubbs

  • 04/16/2016 12:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Colorado Whitewater's annual Spring Kick-Off/Movie Night was a huge success on March 30 at The Oriental Theater in Denver. Nearly 200 people came to enjoy food and drinks, watch inspiring paddling films, meet new boaters, and win cool gear from the raffle. 

    “Judging from people’s comments that night, it was a great success,” said Jodi Lee, CW event coordinator. “Many people expressed that they enjoyed the films, had fun catching up with paddling friends, and even meeting new people throughout the evening."

    This was the second year that CW hosted Rapid Media’s Reel Paddling Film Festival at the event. The festival gathers film submissions from around the world and picks winners that will inspire people to try paddling sports. Films that were selected to show at CW's Spring Kick-Off/Movie Night included a freestyle film called "Go Big or Go Home: In Search of the Perfect Wave", "Whitewater SUP on the Ottawa River", a humorous commercial "Nature Rx", two favorite Grand Canyon films among the crowd "Voyagers Without Trace" and "Martin's Boat", and a conservation film about the Yampa and Green rivers called "62 Years". 

    The classic video "Ode to the Club Boater" was also shown as it's always a good laugh, along with Steve Fisher's 2015 film "Beyond Adventure: The Lost Valley of the Merced". Pete Bellande, experienced kayaker and CW safety director, emceed the event and announced that Steve Fisher will be the guest speaker at Colorado Whitewater's 2016 Spring Dinner on May 3 at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden.

    "Pete did an amazing job as our emcee -- told great stories, raved about Colorado Whitewater, American Whitewater and our event sponsors, and made the event a lot of fun,” Jodi Lee stated.  

    New faces were seen among all who attended the event, where an estimated 50 percent were not CW club members. Attendees enjoyed food from Corner Gourmet food truck and jerky samples from Krave Jerky, plus drinks from the fully-stocked bar. Jodi Lee organized raffle prizes from numerous local sponsors including Down River Equipment, Confluence Kayaks, Krave Jerky, and Golden River Sports. Fun and purpose blended seamlessly at the event, which raised approximately $1,000 for CW’s mission to safeguard rivers and support the growth of paddling sports. A huge thanks goes to all who sponsored, volunteered, and attended the 2016 Spring Kick-Off/Movie Night event! 

    Article Sponsored by: 

  • 04/13/2016 6:10 PM | Anonymous

    Q: What is the daily schedule for the weekend?
    6-9 p.m. (ish): Check in
    Dark: Kayak porn! Movies on the lawn

    8:30 a.m.: Mandatory meeting for instructors and on-water volunteers
    9:00 a.m.: Mandatory meeting for all kayaks (on the lawn): announcements, safety talk, introductions
    10:00 a.m.: Team discussion: Goals, plans, clinic format for the day, set up shuttle, head to river
    4:00 p.m.: Everyone safe back at camp.
    6:00 p.m.: Dinner by Classic Country Catering
    8:00 ish: Live music from Nathan and Jessie (tip them if you love them!)
    11:00 am: Quiet time, please

    7:30 a.m.: Breakfast by Classic Country Catering
    8:30 a.m.: Mandatory meeting for instructors and on-water volunteers
    9:00 a.m.: Mandatory meeting for all kayaks (on the lawn): announcements, awards, prize drawings
    9:30 a.m.: Team discussion: Goals, plans, clinic format for the day, set up shuttle, head to river
    You decide: Head home tired and happy.

    Q: How will the shuttles be done? 
    A: Each group will arrange its own shuttles. If you have the capacity to carry boats and/or people, please volunteer to do so when you meet with your team each morning.

    Q: Can I change classes during the weekend?
    A. Yes, as long as you get approval from the instruction leader of the group you’re joining and let the Instruction leader of the group you’re leaving know. 

    Q: What is provided for dinner and breakfast?
    A: Our terrific friend Jodi Johring of Classic Country Catering will provide two meals as listed below. You should plan to feed yourself on Friday night and Saturday morning, and bring all other snacks, river lunches, and beverages that you may want. There is a small liquor store in Cotopaxi, but don’t drink and drive!

    Saturday night dinner menu:
    Spinach Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette 
    Santa Maria Style Tri Tip
    Teriyaki Chicken
    Veggie Paella
    Jasmine Green Rice
    Fresh Rolls and Butter 
    Iced tea, Lemonade 

    Sunday morning breakfast menu:
    Breakfast Stratas
    Veggie, Country, Applewood Smoked Ham and Gouda
    Yogurt Parfaits 
    Coffee, Tea, OJ

    Q: Can I get the other food/meals nearby?
    A: There is a small store at the campground with coffee, ice cream, and some snacks, but it’s not a grocery store. There’s also a restaurant in Cotopaxi, but they are often NOT open! You’ll want to plan ahead and bring what you want with you to be sure.

    Q: Is the band going to be really loud (will I be able to go to bed early)? 
    A: The band will play on the lawn near the cabins from about 8 to 10 p.m. or so, but we will enforce quiet hours when they finish playing. If you prefer not to hear the music, you should plan to camp at the far end of the campground.

    Q: What should I bring?
    A: This is crazy Colorado and you’ll want to be prepared for sun, rain, wind, or snow. Seriously. Not kidding. It’s usually sunny with a passing rain shower on Sunday afternoon. But sometimes it rains like crazy or snows.

    Things get misplaced—put your name and number on ALL gear.

    If you’re boating:
    ·         The five essentials (boat, skirt, helmet, pfd and paddle!). Make sure the boat is fitted to you and has FLOAT BAGS! Your instruction team has the right to remove you from the trip if you do not have float bags.  (It’s really hard work to recover a boat that is full of water instead of air.)
    ·         More warm river clothing than you think you will need. If you don’t use it, someone else might need to borrow it. 

    Other things to consider bringing:
    ·         Extra straps for shuttling
    ·         Firewood, if you like, or you can buy it at the KOA
    ·         Cash for an annual Parks Pass

    Q: What if I don't have [X] piece of gear? Can I borrow it?
    A: Front Range local shops Confluence Kayaks and Golden River Sports rent gear and can provide what you need. If you have forgotten something important, talk with your team leader asap. Most of the instructors bring some extra gear, and someone can probably provide what you need in an emergency.

    Q: What is there to do in the area for my kids/husband/wife who are/is not boating?
    ·     Mini golf ($2), horseshoe pits, shuffleboard, mini basketball court, sand volleyball court, dog park (at the KOA).
    ·       Ceramic painting from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays (at the KOA).
    ·       Hayrides at 6 p.m. (at the KOA).
    ·       Ice cream social 6:30 p.m. Saturdays ($0.75 per scoop) (at the KOA).
    ·       The campground has a swimming pool (it may not be open this early) and a small rec center with a pool table.
    ·       Visit the KOA website and Facebook page for more info.
    ·       There are trails along the river if you like to play in the water or fish.
    ·       National Forest hiking and biking trails. The Rainbow Trail is popular.
    ·       There are companies offering rafting trips nearby.
    ·       If you want to explore Salida or Canon City, they are each about 30 to 40 minutes’ drive time from Cotopaxi.
    ·       The skyline drive in Canon city is a “scary good drive.”
    ·       ATV tours
    ·       Royal Gorge bridge and park

    Register for Training Camp!

    If you have questions about what to bring, please don’t hesitate to ask any of our awesome instruction team or contact Training Camp organizer Elizabeth Austen directly.

  • 04/13/2016 5:18 PM | Anonymous

    A member of the U.S. National Team, Zach "Bug" Lokken, is in the running for one of four potential canoe/kayak slalom athlete positions for the United S. On May 7 and 8 in Oklahoma City, Bug will compete in the second of two Olympic Trial events that will determine whether he will compete in Rio’s Olympic Whitewater Stadium on August 7.

    Two Coloradan youth athletes, members of 2016 Canoe Slalom Junior National Team, are also hoping to qualify for a spot on the Olympic team: Teagon Johnson-Moore, 17, from Lyons and Charlie Kieft, 22, from Boulder.

    Bug took time out of his busy training and travel schedule for a quick Q&A.

    Birthdate: 3/25/1994
    Hometown: Durango 
    Event/Discipline: Canoe Slalom, C1 and C2 (with partner Michael Smolen)

    CW: What was your first introduction to river sports? 
    Bug: My whole family had some role in the sport of slalom either as athletes or as part of the race organization. My two older siblings both paddled kayak and raced slalom, while my parents worked as both judges and organizers. Currently, my mom is an ICF judge and my dad is an ICF video judge at many major international events, including the Olympics.

    CW: Can you describe your training regime?
    Bug: My training program consists of being on the water twice a day, either on whitewater of flat water and at the gym three times a day. For flat water workouts, I do sprints, aerobic, and endurance training. On whitewater, I do a lot of technique work and race prep. 

    CW: Do you do any cross training?
    Bug: I don’t do much cross training throughout the year. But once a year I do a week or two of skate skiing in Lake Placid, New York and in my home town, Durango.

    CW: Do you have any good luck charms or rituals? 
    Bug: About a minute or two before my run, I try to clear my head of all outside distractions, even the racecourse ahead of me. I do this because slalom is all about feel for the water. And if I push out all the distractions, then I can let my body do all the work.

    CW: What has been the secret to your (boating) success? 
    Bug: To be honest, there are no secrets. All I do is train very hard and focus on the goal! 

    CW: What other boating styles that you do for fun?
    Bug: I really like all of kinds of boating. I really enjoy surfing in waves and holes, and ocean surfing is a lot of fun, too. I really like surfing on river waves and holes more than ocean just because you can stay in them forever, and its tons of fun. 

    CW: On what stretch of river can you be found when you're not competing?
    Bug: When I’m not competing, you can find me in my slalom boat on the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte. It’s a great course to paddle and surf and have fun on.  

    CW: What is your favorite Colorado river run? 
    Bug: I would have to say my home town river the Animas in Durango. I just love how huge it gets in March from all the snow run off.

    CW: What is your favorite worldwide river run?
    Bug: I really like the whitewater course in Australia because the eddies are really good for upstreams, and there are some really good drops in it. 

    CW: What is your favorite activity aside from boating?
    Bug: I really enjoy skiing! I have been skiing ever since I was young, so its super close to me. I just love the top speeds I can reach, and jumping is a lot of fun as well. And of course skiing with all my friends.

    CW: What is something about you that many people don't know?
    Bug: My nickname is Bug. Almost everybody calls me Bug from teachers to my parents to my friends and even my girlfriend. And everybody who knows me internationally calls me Bug too!

    CW: What are your career aspirations?
    Bug: I am interested in business solutions. I just really like solving problems.

    CW: Do you have any advice for other aspiring competitive boaters?
    Bug: You need to work hard at whatever you do!! Give it your all always.

    Article Sponsored by: 

  • 03/17/2016 12:49 PM | Anonymous

    By Sara-Mai Conway

    Competition. When we hear that word, we immediately attach an emotional association. Competition. Our gut responds with fear, anxiety, excitement, curiosity, good and/or bad memories, and sometimes all of that. But it's always something. This is why it's important to compete. 

    Every time I race, I learn something about myself, something I never would have stumbled upon had I not put myself in the uncomfortable situation of competition. I learn about my physical limits and the effectiveness of my training plan, but more importantly, I learn about how I think: What are my true fears? Why did I or why didn't I go for a little more? What caused me to break down, or to push beyond? What was I afraid of or excited about pre-race, during the race, afterward? What do I have control over—my thoughts, my physical performance, my preparation? What don't I have control over— my surroundings, my equipment, thoughts?

    Often, we learn the most when things go wrong. My weakest moments make me the most upset. I would've-could've-should've. I learn and I move on. Yet looking back, it's my strongest moments that I remember the most clearly. Not just the wins, but the wins that forced the biggest fight out of me. That's something that racing has shown me. I like to win, but my favorite “wins” were those situations in which I was asked to beat myself—those moments when I was backed against the wall in the midst of competition and I was asked "that" question, and I was forced to decide: will I or won't I? And I did. 

    And now I'm sorry, you may be a terrific athlete. You may work hard, consistently, powerfully. But if you are working in isolation, you will never be forced to answer that question. And for those of you who opt to “test” yourself on your own, whether it be time trial, for distance, or whatever, you are missing out. And you are fooling yourself.

    Entering a race is not only about the time trial, the distance, or the finish line. It is about the act of racing. It is about learning to prepare, taking risks, learning about who you are, and being honest with yourself when you find out. It is the "spirit" and the "mind" in the trifecta of body-mind-spirit.

    I encourage you all to enter a competition. It doesn't need to be this weekend. But at some point, enter. And then once you do it, I encourage you to do it again someday. Do not do this for the external reward of passing someone else, going faster than someone else, or bringing home a medal. Do it because it is a necessary part of becoming the greatest that you can be. Competition offers necessary lessons toward development of the self. 

    And when development of the self is your goal, it doesn't matter who you pass, who is better than you, or where you place. It will be impossible for you not to achieve.

    Sara-Mai Conway is currently a cycling and yoga instructor, adventure traveler, and all-around competitor living in Austin, Texas. She is the cofounder of Resolute Fitness: Cycling & Yoga, a boutique fitness studio with two locations in the greater Austin area. Find them at and find Sara-Mai on Instagram @saramaic.

    Looking to complete? Check out the Lyons Outdoor Games, a CW-sponsored event, for recreational-paddler-friendly events June 3-4!

    SUP photo: istock/KaraGrubis

  • 03/17/2016 11:04 AM | Anonymous

    by Nik White, CW Instructor 

    As one of the CW instructors, people often ask me what they should work on to become better kayakers. What skills are the most important to learn? Should they take a particular lesson? What do they need to do to be ready for Class III/IV/V whitewater? Unfortunately, most people who ask are disappointed with my answer because it is so simple. Nine times out of ten, the way to get better at kayaking is just to go kayaking more. 

    Once you've had your first "on river lesson" where you learn the basics of communication, swimming, and basic safety, there is no secret skill that you need to learn in a lesson. Having a solid combat roll is not a requirement for anything. And, you don't need a professional instructor to go down the river with you every time in case you swim. Most of what you need to get better at (especially going from class I to II or II to III) you'll pick up with just more time on the water. 

    More time practicing tying boats to your car. More time figuring out how to run shuttle effectively. More time remembering to bring all of your gear. More time in your gear so you know how to adjust it and how to get comfortable in it. More time looking at moving water and feeling how different features affect your boat. More time practicing swimming and self rescuing (and hanging on to your paddle when you swim). More time rescuing your friends. More time paddling in a straight line to quiet your edges. More time stopping after a rapid to make sure everyone is still together and okay. More time bracing. More time practicing catching eddies. More time being calm when you flip upside down so you can relax enough to nail your roll. More time on the water.

    Unfortunately, for someone just getting into the sport, this can be pretty intimidating. You might not know anyone. You aren't familiar with the rivers or where the put-in and take-out are. You don't have a roll, so you don't want to be embarrassed by swimming and making a stranger pick up your pieces. And after all that, every time you swim you seem to hurt some new part of yourself! 

    Fortunately, CW has a number of opportunities to go out on the river. We've always had cruises where a club member opens up their trip to the club and river weekends where the whole club gets together and camps at a river for the weekend. 

    This year we're also expanding something we piloted last year, the weeknight meet-up. Starting the first Monday in April, there will be an open invitation for anyone of any ability level to come out to Reynolds Landing Park in Littleton on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. There are three class II drops in about a quarter mile that are extremely beginner friendly with a nice trail for walking back up and doing laps. We'll play around until dark, and then those who want to can walk over to the new Breckenridge Brewery, located 200 yards away, for some post boating refreshment.

    The goal is to give people an opportunity to get more time on the water and maybe even found some new boating crews for this season. I hope to see you there in April!

    Nik White started kayaking in 2008 while working as a raft guide on the Youghiogheny ("Yok") River near Pittsburgh, PA. Nik moved to Colorado in 2011 and never looked back. His current favorite run in Colorado is the Poudre Narrows but low water days on the Numbers and the Boulder Garden of Foxton are close behind. 

    Article Sponsored by: 

  • 02/22/2016 5:00 AM | Anonymous

    by April Lewandowski, CW Member 

    Josh running one of the Seven Teacups with the group at the bottom. Photo Myles Sanders On January 23, Josh Oberleas’s Facebook post showed a Google Maps image of his upcoming travel itinerary. Only 8,430 kilometers and 113 hours to go. And even then, he’ll only be halfway home.

    Josh Oberleas, his fiancé, and their van, the Fiel Furioso, will begin their journey back to North America in March; they are headed north from the Pucon region in Chile back to Salida, Colorado. While traveling, Josh will be spreading the gospel according to ACA, the American Canoeing Association, teaching South Americans how to be better whitewater kayakers and instructors. Josh is an ACA certified instructor trainer. In fact, several years ago, he taught an instructor-level class here in Colorado.

    Chile is not only a place for Josh, but a season. For the past seven years, he’s been guiding year-round, spending summers in Colorado and then heading to Chile for a South American summer. “I’m not much of a winter person,” he says.

    This past fall, Josh returned to Chile to work for David Hughes’s Pucon Kayak Hostel, which is affiliated with the Patagonia Study Abroad School. A student attending this school could expect a semester schedule to include Principles in Videography Production; Spanish; Advanced Wilderness First Aid; Leadership, Negotiation Skills, and Decision Making; and the “waterfall” course (also known as Expert Whitewater Kayaking for Competition and Instruction).

    The semester didn’t fill, so Josh found himself going from a coach to a guide for class IV/V paddlers. This is quite a change from his summer gig at the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center in Salida. At RMOC, about 80 percent of the guiding is on class II water, teaching people how to get in and out of eddies. These trips are fulfilling because he gets to introduce beginners to the beauty and thrill of Colorado whitewater. The Arkansas River, according to Josh, is the best place to learn in Colorado. Not only is it in the “banana belt,” making it a little warmer than the high mountain rivers, but also, “there are so many sections to fit different skill levels,” he says.

    The Fiel Furioso, which means furiously faithful. Photo Tessie Ortega The rivers in Chile raise the stakes, however. “To take twelve people into an unescapable canyon where the only way to get out is with ropes and having to keep your head straight is really rewarding,” he says. “It’s a different world watching your clients go off waterfalls.”

    Reflecting on this past season in Chile, Josh explains that the guiding also involved instruction. It’s hard to imagine that a class IV/V paddler could use much feedback, but Josh routinely provided video analysis for his clients, helping them see how to boof more efficiently or overcome the deer-in-the-headlights stall when reaching the top of a big drop.

    Somewhat jokingly, I ask Josh if the ACA has a progression for running waterfalls, since they happen to have a progression for everything else, from wet exits to rolling. “No, they don’t. That’s probably why we’re doing it here in South America,” he laughs. He then provides me with a simple approach to teaching waterfall running:

    1. Start with a group of motivated paddlers with solid class IV or moving-into-class-V skills.

    2. Take them to the most perfect waterfall setting, the Seven Teacups on the Rio Claro.

    3. And then, run the drops.

    Josh teaching rolling in Chile. Photo credit Tessie OrtegaJosh also shares his bite-sized piece of wisdom when it comes to running waterfalls: “Be active in the air.” He says many paddlers do well setting up for the drop, but “there’s lots you can do in the air to control the boof and control the landing.”  

    “Be active in the air,” means that during the free-fall, one can make physical adjustments to prepare for the next move. For instance, “Right after you take your forward boof stroke, you can lift your knees up toward your chest to flatten the boat to get the good boof.” Or, Josh continues, “If you want to lessen the impact on the landing, you can push your feet down and kind of scoop your boat into the water.”

    Once he started talking about the ins and outs, he had me thinking perhaps there was a chapter in the ACA manual on running waterfalls. “You can actually change edges. If we need to go to the left we land, then it’s a good idea to land off the waterfall on the left edge to carve us to the left,” he says with enthusiasm.

    Through his teaching, Josh has observed that running waterfalls brings paddlers growth and confidence. One student sent him a message on Facebook saying, “I feel really lucky to have spent time on the river with you as I’ve learned so much and have had an incredible time. I’ve seen a huge improvement in my paddling in the past few weeks.”

    The group before running the first drop on the Seven Teacups. Photo Josh OberleasJosh ran his first waterfall on Daisy Creek in 2005 while he was in school at Western State University in Gunnison, Colorado. “I could say I got addicted to it, but the waterfall experience really grew when I first came down to Chile,” he says.

    Josh has been building his waterfall-running confidence for some time. His biggest drop? The seventy-foot waterfall Stout 10 on the Middle Palguin in Chile. However, if you’re looking to complete this run, you’re out of luck. This famous waterfall “collapsed on itself about two years ago,” he says.

    “It was a straightforward pool drop, and I ran it twice with a group of friends. It was impressive to still be in freefall and think about why I hadn’t hit the pool yet,” Josh says.

    I ask Josh where a Coloradoan might find a good starter waterfall. With some hesitation he says, “One of the more straightforward runs for a first waterfall would be Daisy Creek near Crested Butte.“

    With a bit more gusto, he mentions two popular destinations for those seeking better waterfalls than what Colorado has to offer. Some folks head to Vera Cruz, Mexico, for a waterfall tour. “But if you really want the good waterfalls, it’s Chile,” he says with a full endorsement. The classic run is the one he mentioned earlier, the Seven Teacups, a picture-perfect set of the ultimate pool-drop experience. Josh mentions that running big drops and teaching others to run them hasn’t been his sole purpose in Chile. As an ACA instructor trainer, Josh travels around to offer ACA Instructor courses in the country. “South America is where we were in the 70s,” he says. The country has realized that adventure tourism is a key element in their growing economy.

    Lukas Reichelt showing us how it is done on the Upper Palguin. Photo Josh OberleasAlso, there seems to be a need for the ACA mindset. “The original idea of learning to kayak [in South America] was hop in the boat and follow the guy who knows more in front of you. There was just no real structure,” he says. “It’s been good to bring that [structure] and share it.”

    ACA teaches a progression that moves novice paddlers from flatwater to easier whitewater. The rationale, according to Josh, is “You teach people how not to get flipped over before you teach them to roll back up.” The results? “You see a better progression and happier people,” he says.

    There are other effects from getting more people into the sport. People who enjoy rivers begin to love and protect them. “What’s really been nice is that with a lot of growth in kayaking here, a lot of people are seeing what they’re doing to the rivers, that the damming isn’t a good thing, and they are realizing that there can be other ways,” he says.  

     In fact, two major dam projects have been cancelled. “There’s quite a bit of conscious effort here to protect the rivers,” he says.

    Josh hopes to be back in Salida by July. As he makes the long journey in his white van with his fiancé by his side, he’ll be stopping along the way to share his love of rivers and the good news about the ACA. And if you’re headed to Crested Butte to run Daisy Creek, keep an eye out for Josh on his favorite run in Colorado, Oh Be Joyful.

    April Lewandowski finds one way to get a wintertime boating fix: she watches Grand Canyon paddling videos on her iPad while sitting in her kayak on the living room floor. 


    1. Josh running one of the Seven Teacups with the group at the bottom. Photo: Myles Sanders
    2. The Fiel Furioso, which means furiously faithful. Photo: Tessie Ortega 
    3. Josh teaching rolling in Chile. Photo credit: Tessie Ortega
    4. The group before running the first drop on the Seven Teacups. Photo: Josh Oberleas
    5. Lukas Reichelt showing us how it is done on the Upper Palguin. Photo: Josh Oberleas

    Article Sponsored by:

  • 02/20/2016 10:52 PM | Anonymous

    By Kirsten Frickle, CW Member

    I had a few seasons of whitewater under my belt, but broke my shoulder and tore my rotator cuff a year earlier (in a kayaking incident, of course) and had become very timid in my boat. I was hoping to regain some confidence and get more comfortable in class III water.

    I came to training camp loosely acquainted with Laurie Maciag, Elizabeth Austen, and a couple other Boating Betties I had met at one of the clinics in Golden. By the end of the weekend, I met at least 100 new people and made fifteen to twenty wonderful, new friends.

    Friday evening I volunteered to help at the check-in table, which gave me the opportunity to meet almost everyone in attendance. Participants rolled in from early afternoon until the wee hours of the morning. Some people were living it up in cabins, others brought their campers and trailers, and many just pitched a tent.  

    Saturday morning we aligned with our classes, geared up, and got on the water. I registered for the level-up class, which was exactly what I needed. After practicing ferries, peel outs, and eddy turns, we reviewed and self-critiqued our performance, which was captured on video. Later that afternoon, we moved into bigger water and practiced eddy hopping and picking our lines (a few of us also practiced swimming).

    The camaraderie and support were amazing! Several people in our group had trepidation in the beginning, but were crushing it by the end of the day. We all improved our skills and confidence. We were all also very hungry and ate a lot that evening.

    Sunday morning there was a lot of shuffling between classes. I was thinking I was going to take it easy on a class II cruise, but then an impromptu class III Pinnacle to Parkdale run was organized and my classmate Jessie Gunter peer-pressured me into joining, "You came here to step it up a level, so step up" (or something to that effect).

    Training camp was the beginning of a busy boating season. Thanks to all the new friends I made, I was never without a group to paddle with. I went on several of the Colorado Whitewater cruises (Poudre, Rio Grande, Colorado, South Platte, and Blue) and many other trips with my new CW buddies. My husband and I struck out on our own to the Arkansas, Animas, Colorado, Gunnison, Taylor, and Snake (WY). Confidence attained!

    Another highlight of training camp was the raffle. Several generous sponsors donated fabulous prizes (of which I didn't win any, but the money still went to a good cause). And there was food. And cupcakes. But the best part was all the awesome people! I can't wait 'til this year's camp!

    Photos by Kirsten Frickle. 

    Kirsten Frickle is Minnesota transplant and now lives in Fairplay, Colorado. In 2015 she was first-year training camp attendee.

    The 2016 Training Camp takes place May 20-22 in Cotopaxi. Register by March 13 to take advantage of the early bird price of $125. Go to for more information. 

    Article Sponsored by:

  • 02/20/2016 10:06 PM | Anonymous

    By Tommy Gram

    A PFD is a crucial piece of gear for everyone who recreates on the river. In the most basic sense, it helps keep us afloat when we become separated from our boat, board, or raft. PFDs not only kept us afloat but also serve as multi-purpose utility devices. Let’s talk about some of the key components to look for when choosing a PFD and how I outfit my own.

    First, look at function. For paddle sports, a slimmer profile, type III PFD designed for active movement is recommended. With training and practice on appropriate use, many whitewater paddlers use a type V rescue PFD. The rescue PFD is essentially a type III with a sewn-in quick-release harness that can be used in a rescue situation. There are a lot of different rescue PFDs out there, make sure to get one that is lower bulk and intended for paddle sports.

    Insuring your PFD has adequate flotation is also important. All PFDs have a flotation rating in pounds. As a PFD ages, it loses floatation. Consider replacing your PFD every five years.

    Another important factor when choosing a PFD is fit and color. An appropriate fit is essential for comfort and safety. Your local paddle sports shop will help you find the best model for your needs as well as fine-tune the proper fit. A poor-fitting PFD can be uncomfortable and may not function properly. Also, make sure to choose a bright color that is easy to spot. Color can aid in rescue situations by making you more visible. Remember, a PFD not only keeps us afloat, it also serves as a multi-purpose utility device.

    Accessorizing your PFD allows you to keep all necessary items for rescue and comfort within your grasp at all times. Consider what you want to carry in your PFD and the storage you may need for these things. In my opinion, the bigger the pocket(s) the better. When deciding what to store in you PFD, categorize your items into two categories: rescue and personal comfort.

    For rescue, think about what you might need in a moment’s grasp? What should you not waste time getting out of the dry bag? If you are separated from your boat and have to retrieve it or hike out, are there items you need?

    Here is a list of the rescue/emergency items I carry:

    • Whistle
    • Knife
    • Basic lightweight pin kit
    • CPR mask and gloves
    • Light source
    • High-calorie snack

    For comfort think about the things you often use. Some examples of comfort items include:

    • Sunscreen
    • Lip balm
    • Nose plugs
    • Ear plugs
    • Helmet liner

    What you keep in you PFD may vary depending on the length or difficulty of your run as well as personal preferences. Whatever you keep in your PFD, make sure it is highly functional and that suits your needs for comfort and an emergency situation. Enjoy your time on the water and be safe out there.

    Tommy Gram is an instructor trainer for the American Canoe Association (ACA) and teaches whitewater kayaking and swiftwater rescue in the Arkansas River Valley. Check out his upcoming courses at He is also the instructor for Colorado Whitewater’s swiftwater rescue clinic in March. See the event calendar for more information:

    Article Sponsored by:

  • 01/26/2016 10:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Larry Zuk inducted into the FIBArk White Water Hall of Fame in 2013 By Jodi Lee

    With a passion for water and adventure, Larry Zuk left his mark on the history of canoeing and kayaking. In fact, he was one of the founding members of Colorado Whitewater. Larry died in Colorado on December 11, 2015, at the age of 92.

    As a youth, Larry was active in Boy Scouts and was a counselor at summer camps in Maine, where he gained his life-long interests of canoeing, falconry, and Indian lore. He and his family members were early and active members of the American Canoe Association (ACA) and attended ACA’s Sugar Island Camp in Canada starting in the 1920s. The entire family raced as canoe paddlers and sailors, and won many trophies. Larry’s father, Thomas Zuk, was commodore of the ACA in 1957, and Larry Zuk was commodore of the ACA in 1976. 

    After college and serving in the Navy during WWII, Larry moved to Colorado in 1949 to fly and hunt with falcons, even donating one of his falcons to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. In the early 1950s, he met a group of boaters who ran whitewater in kayaks and canoes. He started the Colorado Whitewater Association in 1954 and served as the organization’s first president. He also founded ACA’s Rocky Mountain Division and was a member of the Board of the International Canoe Federation, which invited European kayak and canoe racers to American whitewater for the first time. He was a pioneer racer, instructor, and boat designer. In fact, he made 64 wooden kayaks and canoes in his garage with the help from CWWA members.

    1961 Larry Zuk on the South Platte RiverLarry moved in 1970 to Concord, Massachusetts, for his career. At that time, he returned to sailing, designing and racing canoes, and designed the ACA Class sail and rig, which has been adopted as the standard in the United States and in Finland, and he made the plans available to anyone wishing to build it worldwide. Larry also wrote a book, A Century of Canoeing in the ACA, which is still available for sale here. Larry’s original canoes have been donated to the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York.

    In 2012 he moved back to Colorado, where he continued to sort his collection of ACA papers and wrote his whitewater memoirs, which will be published posthumously. Larry was inducted into the ACA Paddlesport Hall of Fame in 2012 and received the lifetime achievement award, the Legend of Paddling Award. He was also inducted into the FIBArk White Water Hall of Fame in 2013, “In honor of their pioneering & community!”

    Article Sponsored by:  

    “He has prepared, inspired, and empowered paddlers everywhere.”
    –American Canoe Association

    Larry’s ashes will be spread in the spring of 2016 in the Arkansas River in Colorado, where he won his first whitewater slalom national championship.

    Read more about the historical impact Larry Zuk had on Colorado Whitewater.

Colorado Whitewater is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  1312 17th St #76767, Denver, CO 80202

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software