Whitewater in the Winter: Shoshone New Years Day

Trigg Skoe

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By Ellie Moore 


New Years means something different for us all. For me, it meant joining 105 other people, all layered in drysuits on top of fleece, on the frigid waters of the Colorado River. For many of the kayakers and rafters this was a new event, but for others, this is an annual event. A few of the participants were even on their 7th year.  

On New Year’s Day a group of boaters all meet outside of Glenwood Springs to boat a section of the Colorado River called Shoshone, a Class II and III run. This tradition is a great way to bring in the new year and maybe even shake off anything from the night before.  

This year was my first time participating in the Shoshone New Year’s Day paddling. When we first got to the put-in, I thought we were crazy. It was 15℉, there was snow on the ground, and I was about to get into the river. To put-in, we slid down the snow covered rocks in our kayaks, which proved to be both chaotic and fun. When we got onto the river, the feeling that we were crazy was confirmed. It was cold, I was covered in ice, but I couldn’t have been more happy. Everyone was so ecstatic to be on the river, with the exception of the two people that swam.

When we got off the river I looked down and saw a sheet of ice covering me. We had to pour hot water on my life jacket to melt the ice so I could take it off, and it took two people to pull off my boyfriends’ life jacket. Luckily, we were greeted by hot chocolate and hand warmers at the take-out.   

I think that celebrating the new year with kayaking was the best way I could have celebrated it. Instead of waking up hungover, I got to bring in the new year with some amazing people doing an activity that I love. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you think you can put up with the cold and the rapids, check it out for January 1, 2020!