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  • 02/20/2016 10:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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:

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  • 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!”

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    “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.

  • 01/25/2016 10:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jessie Gunter CW ‘14

    The Scenic JondachiRecently I had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador for a week of paddling with the company Small World Adventures. Luckily, while I was at the National Paddling Film Festival in Frankfort, Kentucky, last February, I became very competitive with another bidder at a silent auction and impulsively bought the trip on a grad student budget (because financial planning is for…adults? Adultier adults?). My next task was to convince my partner, Trip, that he too should throw caution to the wind and set sail for Ecuador, which wasn’t too difficult. As the trip grew nearer, my friend Hilde in Virginia also decided to join, and we were the three best friends that anybody could have.

    Cresting a big wave on the JatanyacuOnce we arrived in Quito, we were greeted by a van full of friendly guides and two other East Coast paddlers. We headed gleefully into the jungle on a narrow and very windy road over the beautiful Papallacta Pass to Small World’s lodge in Borja, stopping only to check out rivers several thousand feet below us in the valley (“That totally looks manageable. Are we paddling that?” Guide: “That’s some super stout class V…”) and to vomit (just kidding, but I came close). At the lodge, we selected and outfitted our boats, geared up, and headed out for a half day of paddling on a class III section of the Rio Quijos. I made sure to start the trip off strong by paddling straight into a hole I was supposed to avoid and swimming the first rapid, approximately fifteen seconds after putting in. We had a fun, albeit blood-pressure-spiking, afternoon getting our river-legs back and remembering how to kayak.

    Nancy with a sweet boof on the CosangaOn the second day we headed to the Cosanga to truly dive into the instruction component of the trip, which was aptly named “Intro to Creeking.” We practiced rock splats and boofs, sometimes stopping to lap certain sections. 

    On the third day we traveled to Tena to enjoy some warm rivers. We had a big mileage day on one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River, the Jatanyacu, which means “big water.” This class III gem was incredibly fun, and my cheeks hurt by the end of the day from grinning as I rode huge wave trains and surfed everything I could catch.

    We had lots of help getting our boats ready for the Upper Mis.If I had to pick, I’d say day four was my favorite. We had another long and epic day, this time on the Lower Jondachi and then the Hollin after the two rivers converged. The remote location, clear water, and steep canyon walls decorated with abundant waterfalls and plant life made for quite a scenic run. The Jondachi is more of a low volume creek with some exciting rapids that often bring you right up against the walls (and sometimes maybe slamming into them and flipping), but it takes on more of a big water feel after the confluence with the Hollin.

    For days five and six, we headed to the Upper Misahualli (class III+/IV) near Tena for some technical creeking. The Upper Mis was a great place for creeking instruction, and by day six I felt (relatively) smoother and more confident while constantly making quick moves to navigate around boulders of unusual size (B.O.U.S.). 

    Our trip happened to coincide with New Year’s Eve, which was a blast in Tena. We joined most of the town for a huge street party, where ample beer was chugged, effigies were burned, fireworks were thrown at gringos, and we danced to live music until we dropped.

    The last day of the trip was a half-day paddle on a different section of the Quijos. Trip, Hilde, and I bid farewell to our fellow trip “custies” (as raft guides say when referring to customers), Billy and Nancy, and to our amazing guides, Jason, Libby, and Gynner, and wondered how soon was too soon to Facebook friend them. We went on to backpack around Ecuador for another week doing slightly less shoulder-intensive activities such as riding bikes, hiking, and eating ice cream. 

    Jessie Gunter

    Jessie Gunter stays in shape in the off-season by playing in a competitive adult dodgeball league in Boulder.

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  • 01/15/2016 8:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    SALIDA, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service are seeking public input on the management plan revision for recreation use along the Arkansas River. The Arkansas River Headwaters Area Management Plan provides a framework for managing numerous and often conflicting recreation activities along the 152-mile river corridor. The public scoping period started on Jan. 11 and ends on Feb. 12, 2016.

    The Arkansas River is the most commercially rafted river in the United States, drawing nearly 240,000 (1) commercial boaters and resulting in an economic impact of more than $60 million (2). The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is also popular for camping, wildlife watching, gold panning and numerous other river-related recreation activities, including its Gold Medal Trout Fishery.   

    “It is important for the public to engage in the Arkansas River Headwaters Area Management Plan because it provides a long-term framework for recreation decisions on the river,” said Rob White, CPW Park Manager. “Many of the complex natural resource issues we deal with have long-term consequences. This planning effort enables the AHRA partnership to develop a lasting framework for recreation management decisions.”

    CPW, BLM, and USFS are inviting the public to a series of meetings to help guide the AHRA partnership as they develop the AHRA Management Plan. The open-house meetings will run from 5:45 p.m. – 8 p.m. and will feature an introduction at 6 p.m.  The meetings will also feature a focus-group style station to help the AHRA partnership understand why you value current recreation opportunities on the river. The meeting schedule is:

    • Buena Vista (Jan. 25, 5:45-8 p.m., Buena Vista Community Center, 715 E. Main St.)
    • Canon City (Jan. 26, 5:45-8 p.m., Harrison Elementary/Middle School, 920 Field St.)
    • Colorado Springs (Jan. 27, 5:45-8 p.m., CPW Southeast Regional Office, 4255 Sinton Rd.)
    • Denver (Jan. 28, 5:45-8 p.m., REI Flagship Store, 1416 Platte St.) 
    Based on public comments received during the scoping period, the AHRA partnership will develop a series of alternatives, which will be available for public review. Once those alternatives are revised based on public feedback, a draft environmental assessment will be published for public input (estimated Fall 2016). A final plan is expected to be signed in early 2017.

    The current AHRA Management Plan can be found here:

    For more information please contact AHRA at 719-539-7289 or to submit a comment visit the AHRA website at:

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment -- including your personal identifying information -- may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold from public review your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.


    The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is recognized as one of the nation's most popular locations for whitewater rafting and kayaking on the Arkansas River - the most commercially rafted river in the United States - and is noted for its world class fishery. The area is collaboratively managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. AHRA consists of 45 recreation sites including 6 camping areas, 26 boat ramps and 18 developed facilities. The 152-mile long corridor sees roughly 800,000 visitors annually.

    1 – Colorado Parks and Wildlife – Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area 2014 Annual Report: 

    2 – Colorado River Outfitters Association – Commercial River Use in the State of Colorado 2014 Year End Report: 

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  • 11/16/2015 5:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Well it's about time, right?! We finally revamped the website so it will be mobile-friendly and easier to navigate. Now you don't have to read that teeny-tiny font on your smartphone... the entire site will format properly to your device whether that's a desktop, tablet, or smartphone.

    We'll also be using our news feed and forums section more in the future and the latest updates will be conveniently displayed on the home page. 

    We're always looking to improve the CW website so our members and future members will find the information they're looking for. If you have any feedback, suggestions, or comments, please feel free to post them. 

  • 05/23/2011 10:35 AM | Anonymous

    Forwarded from our friends at "Friends of the Poudre" - - 

    Hello Friends of Save the Poudre!

    We need your help now!

    The State of Colorado is considering adopting a policy document that says that "supporting the Northern Integrated Supply Project" which would build Glade Reservoir and destroy the Cache la Poudre River is a desired economic development strategy for northern Colorado.  This extremely controversial policy document was created without public input by a very small number of biased insiders who subverted the public process.  

    We have 5 days -- until Friday, May 27 -- to provide "input" to the State to overturn this policy.  We've made it fast, easy, and fun for you to provide that input.  Here is a petition that you, your family, your friends, and your colleagues can sign that will be sent to the State.

    Please sign this petition as soon as possible.

    It is imperative that Colorado does not adopt polices that say that destroying the environment and destroying rivers is an acceptable economic development strategy -- such a policy would be an anti-environmental precedent that we must stop now.

    Again, here's the petition (CLICK). 

    It will take you 1 minute to help Save the Poudre today!  

    Please sign, please email this petition to your friends, please post this petition on your Facebook pages.

    Let's go!  Thank you for Saving the Poudre!



    Gary Wockner, PhD, Director

    Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper


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