It's been a hot minute since I posted. Since I bought my van, my life has been on fast-forward getting it ready to go. However, last Saturday I left my Utah-hometown for good and hit the road!
First stop: The Back of Beyond SUP Race in Moab, Utah!!
Second stop: The San Rafael Swell, where we caught the rare occurrence of paddling on Muddy Creek, which involved 17 miles of meandering through chutes and slot canyons!
Back of Beyond SUP Race in Moab, Utah Recap:
I was one of only two female SUP'rs that signed up for the Elite Division of the 7 mile race from Dewey Bridge to Hittle Bottom Campground. There were several other females representing in the Open Division, though.
The race started off with a beach start where all the paddlers lined up and sprinted with their boards into the river. Since it was a relatively flat stretch of river, I raced on my 404 LTD Race Board. The current and the wind was pumping, so we had to powerhouse to the other side of the river in order to complete the two buoy turns. The second buoy was quite a ways upstream from the first, which meant that we had to utilize the tiny eddies to attain our way up. It was a LOT easier said than done.
Last year, I nailed the buoys in the beginning, but this year I fell off my board twice and found myself at the back of the pack. But I figured I had to rely on power and stamina to catch up within the next seven miles of paddling in the fierce head wind that was throwing many people off of their boards. I feel like the head wind is a common theme with this race, and even though it super sucks, it also makes an added challenge and technique to reading the water and utilizing different stances of balance.
The results and times from the race are here. I'm happy to kick off the racing season with a strong finish and great wake-up call that I should get out and practice my buoy turns a bit more!
Muddy Creek Trip Report:
After the race, fellow Hala Gear Athletes, John Blackshire and Andy O'Brien, my boyfriend, a girl named Emily, and I drove about two hours (five hours after we got lost) and camped at the put-in for the Chutes Section of Muddy Creek. I was especially excited to do this trip because I've been watching the cfs for this run for about four years, and this was the first time since 2011 that we had enough snow melt to make it floatable! People usually hike this section.
We woke up early on Sunday morning, set shuttle, and launched. And it was epic.
My advice for those wanting to do this run in the future?
Have some paddling experience (or a good attitude for some type II fun). You will be dodging and hitting rocks a lot. The water is pretty shallow the entire way (we ran it at just under 200 cfs), so if you fall, you'll probably hit rocks.
So, wear protective gear. Especially if you're paddle boarding. I wore a PFD, shin guards, closed-toe shoes, a helmet, and a wet suit. I still got cut up and everyone in the group got some gnarly bruises. Buuuttt it was TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!
This was the first time my boyfriend had ever paddle boarded in water with a substantial current, and it was probably the perfect way for him to learn how to read a river and execute paddle strokes with low-consequences. There were two or three spots that we portaged because it wasn't worth beating up our boards or ourselves on the rocks, but there was not anything too intense (we have quite a bit of river experience and this was class I-II water).
It took us about 7 hours to complete this run on the water, so bring some warm clothes, food, and a head lamp in case it takes longer than expected.
The take-out is on river left. It took us about 1 1/2 - 2 hours to reach our take-out after we exited the narrow slots. The beta I read said that the take-out is after the canyon "opens up", which I didn't feel that that was all that helpful because we were all looking for the take-out once the canyon started opening up. So essentially we were looking for the take-out for about 30 minutes before we saw some cars parked up on the cliff and knew we were at the right place.
The put-in is located near the GPS coordinates: (38.685147, -111.000670) Located near Tomsich Butte/Hondoo Arch
The take-out is located near the GPS coordinates: (38.567141, -110.961116) Located near Hidden Splendor Mine
There is more camping at the put-in, but there is room to camp at the take-out as well. If you don't want to hike your gear up a cliff at the end of run, then make sure you bring a high-clearance, FWD vehicle.
You will not have cell reception once you hit the dirt roads, so make sure you are prepared with everything beforehand!