|Tango looking for a way out|
Cheeseman Canyon is a great run, I would highly suggest a good guide, and a small crew to attempt this amazing sieve laden playground.
Gradient 240 fpm at best
Length 6 miles
Driving into the Cheeseman Canyon is a little eerie, the forest burnt to the ground only a few years back and as far as you can see it is burnt trees, baby aspens, and a lot of bedrock. The team, Mike Hagadorn, Casey Tango, Riley Frakes, Jeff Flora, Tom Dohdray, and myself; many of us had never boated together and it was going to be a testing adventure.
Up to the put in; Mike had already contacted the caretaker of Sportsman’s Paradise; (Bill 719-748-3212) we drove through the gate and met Bill. We slowly followed him through the property and arriving at the far property line we handed Bill a six pack of cold beer. What had arguable been the nastiest river access in CO had just been taken care of with a six pack and a smile. Bill locked us out on the far side of the gate, there was only one way out of the canyon from here.
Bill locking us into the Canyon
Once on the water we paddled for a short bit and reached Club Dues, a pushy, bouncy, fun little rapid. Next up is Let’s Make a deal, an awkward boof into a pushy pool that goes under a rock on the left.
Tom in Let’s Make a Deal
Mike Hagadorn on Let’s Make a Deal
Penis Buster Parfait is up next and we all decided to portage the top portion that looks like a manky pile of shit.
Mike in the hart of the Parfait
Back on water we got to the top of Slap Your Mama; as the group slowly went through a crack on the far right one of the paddlers got pinned. Wanting to help out I went down the center channel and tried to make the hairy ferry into the eddy. I didn’t make the ferry and bumped into the rock backing up the eddy. Instantly I got shoved under the rock, it took a couple seconds of scrapping and wiggling and I managed to find my way out from under the rock. I rolled up just in time to bump into another rock, I was so lucky, this one was at least as undercut as the first rock. I spent another few seconds pulling myself out from under the second rock. This time when I rolled up I spotted a horizon line bigger then I wanted to run blind. I also saw out of my peripheral a tiny channel to the right, I went for it. My tiny right line was a 8 foot drop, as I spotted my landing zone, I realized it was a mess of rock and wood. I tried to pull my nose up and over the wood and in doing so I smashed my bow into a almost dry rock. My ankle folded over and my first thought was that I had just broken my ankle. As the pain rushed through my leg I stabilized my boat in a vertically pin and the water was now pounding onto my back. I was starting to get pretty nervous, the boat was quivering and I was concerned it may fold on my already messed up ankle. Riley amazingly quickly showed up and helped yank me out of my mostly submerged, vertically pinned boat. We then spent a while dragging my kayak from it’s precarious position.
My ankle was already swelling and I couldn’t put any weight on it; after a quick conversation, a decision was made. The easiest way to get me out of the canyon was to get back in my kayak and paddle another four miles of class five rapids to the take out. I crawled back in my kayak and we headed down stream.
Mike at the top of Punji Sticks
Riley avoiding the undercuts and sieves in lower Punji Sticks
We scouted a couple other drops, I portaged
a few more, and even got a couple piggy back rides around Underprivileged and Does Chaos. As we made it down to Slide for Life my ankle was getting really painful and I was ecstatic for a no scout run of a cool rapid.
Mike Sliding for Life
From there down the river keeps its character, sieves and undercuts everywhere. Another mile or so of sieve laden flat water and we were at the take out. Casey’s Jeep was three miles up the hill; Riley jogged up the hill and retrieved the Jeep. Riley returned with the Jeep and I was ecstatic not to have to crawl the three miles up the hill to the vehicles. As we loaded up the Jeep, I used a beer for pain control, and another on my ankle as a ice pack.
Riley giving Tango a hand going through a flat water sieve
Nothing like a cold one at the take out
p.s. The X-ray came back negative and I am already back on water. A huge thanks goes out to Casey Tango, Riley Frakes, and MIke Hagadorn for the piggy back rides, and dragging my kayak through this amazing canyon.