Chris Baer cleaning the last drop of Crazy Woman Creek
The 4 Corners crew, Cruise Quenelle, Joel Cameron, Tony Miley, Dave Farkas, Sasha Stauffer, Eric Munroe, Drew Beezley, and myself took off for the daunting task of paddling from the Third Gorge of Lime Creek aka Cascade creek, down to the Animas, hiking up and paddling Canyon Creek aka Crazy Women, and then paddling down the Animas through the Rockwood Gorge. My entire body was sore the next day and my mind was still revelling in the amazing action of one of the best combo runs I have ever put together.
The Crew, Cruise Quenelle, Joel Cameron, Tony Miley, Dave Farkas, Sasha Stauffer, Eric Munroe, Drew Beezley, and Chris Baer
Third Gorge Lime, aka Cascade Creek
Get the Backpack ready for another classic Durango hike, luckily the mile and a half hike is down hill and relatively painless. Once on water the action starts quick and the two mile section rips by.
Sasha Stauffer, paddling through Landslide on Cascade Creek aka 3rd Gorge Lime
Tony Miley, a preface
Tony is a class 5 kayaker, partial owner of 4 Corners Riversports, and was the first person to take legitimate interest in my kayaking. After paddling with Tony on the Gauley River in West Virginia he offered me a sponsorship program with his kayak shop. Since then I have received the honor of paddling with him in a myriad of locations, including my first run down Vallecito where he laughed at me and told me that I don’t get to scout anything. Tony’s vague beta and big smile have created tons of adventures for everyone around him.
Unfortunately Tony was involved in a major ATV accident a couple years ago and lost most of his right hand. Fortunately Tony is exceedingly resilient. He has gotten back up to full speed, with the help of a few prosthetics, and an amazingly strong spirit.
Crazy Women aka Canyon Creek
This run is legit, 680 feet per mile of action, thank god it’s less then a mile other wise my nerves would have faltered. Upon reaching the confluence of Crazy Women and the Animas Cruise Quenelle leaped from his kayak and started into an incoherent stream of words. It’s in, let’s go, big, waterfall, cauldron, really hard, skate board? I wasn’t really sure what was going on. The entire crew quickly hopped out of their kayaks and followed Cruise (who was the only one with a kayak) up the hill. Thankfully Tony Miley turned around and saw me still sitting in my boat on the beach. I asked “Tony what is going on here?” Tony responded with a quick and very excited, “Grab your boat and start hiking there is a couple big water falls, you will want to run these for sure.”
In classic Durango fashion, the protocol is to hike the 680 feet of gradient and then paddle back to the Animas. Thankfully Tony is the man, and helped me carry my kayak to the top of the steepest pitch.
Upon looking at the micro creek, I was excited to see very runnable drops. The downfall is that the drops are unnervingly close to each other. The entire posse was running around scouting from every imaginable angle. After a couple minutes Cruise came up to me and asked me if I was ready. Laughter came out of me….. ” whoa whoa whoa I’m kayaking this? whats the line?” Cruise took a couple minutes to describe the preferred lines in the tiny and very committing canyon.
Tony set himself up in the middle of the canyon to be safety, the rest of the crowd huddled around the rim of the canyon waiting to watch the entertainment. Cruise and I sat at the put in for a couple minutes contemplating our lines and cooling off after the exceedingly steep hike. Quickly we slipped into the creek and the action started. One 15 footer into the next into a small rock that fortunately stopped me only inches away from going directly into the Skate Ramp drop. I was on an eddy line looking 20ish feet down at Tony setting safety. The boil under me subsided and I was luckily able to back paddle into the eddy and set up correctly for the next big drop. Skate Ramp is a 20 footer with a launch ramp near the bottom. Both Cruise and I get thrown around and Tony was at the bottom grabbing our boats before we washed into the next rapid. With Tony’s classic big smile, he high fived us and shouted out “nice lines boys!”
Cruise Quenelle in the middle of the second canyon
The second pitch is the big one. Cruise and I decided to skip the first manky 4 foot ledge. The plan was to seal launch off a very precarious rock ledge that instantly shoot us into a funky 8 foot drop. It was Tony Miley with (one hand) that helped us into our boats and gave us the final shove, Seal launching us into the mess of white water below. The second drop was an off-vert 20 with some serious piton potential half way down. The last and biggest drop is a 30ish footer that lands in a very containing cauldron that to our luck had a large log wedged into the left side of the landing zone.
Cruise Quenelle with a beautiful line and a little log loving at the bottom
Cruise and my lines went exceedingly well and after some high fives and hugs, we were back on the Animas paddling towards Rockwood Gorge.
The Animas river is absolutely amazing, one spectacular section after the next. The white water contained below Rockwood is as pushy and committing as I ever want to test. For a full write up click here.
Looking down into Pandora’s box
Luke Hanson charging between the sieves in the Baker’s Box
Just an average run out in Pandora’s box
An adventure brought to you by ChrisBaer