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Hot Temperatures Bring High Water and High Danger to Colorado Rivers [VIDEO, PHOTOS, INTERVIEW]

We’ve arrived at our first full week of 80 degree temperatures in Fort Collins and across the Northern Front Range, and as the temperature goes up, the snow is going to come down! It’s not going to fall from the sky. It is going to melt into crystal clear Rocky Mountain river water and make its way past our towns and all the way to the Mississipi River delta in some cases. With the snowpack bigger than many have seen in their careers of monitoring these levels (well over 100% for most areas as of late May 2011), river levels are expected to reach all time highs.

Check out this video shot near Walden, CO, demonstrating how much water and snow there is up there just waiting to make its way to the Front Range and beyond.

That news is a mixed bag of  pro and con. Pro – fun for whitewater enthusiasts. Con – potentially dangerous for whitewater enthusiasts, or people with less experience playing in the river. If the level of the Cache la Poudre crests at over 6 feet or more, that is a lot of water, also known as CFS(Cubic Feet Per Second). The higher the CFS level, the more power the river has, the more dangerous it becomes. In a river that is already dangerous because of how shallow it is, how technical and wild it is, and the very cold temperatures, adding record high flow levels just adds another potential hazard.

That is why the best way to experience the Cache la Poudre is with one of our licensed raft companies. They are experts on the Poudre and experts in safety. Take a trip with them and all you have to concentrate on is having fun!

Dave Dennis is an expert on the Poudre River, he is also Team Leader and incoming President of  Larimer County Dive Rescue Team. His interview is a ‘must hear’ for those who are going to be recreating on Colorado rivers this spring. He explains how…

There really hasn’t been snowpack like there is now in many, many years. We thought that last year was a pretty big year and it was about 130% of normal snowpack. Right now Joe Wright Reservoir has about 200% of normal snowpack…how that comes down is really going to depend on the weather from here on.

As was mentioned before, part of the potential peril of the Poudre is the temperature and the danger of hypothermia.

This is a snowmelt fed river. It’s a free flowing, wild and scenic river and it’s coming right down off the glacier so it’s known to be a cold and very technical river….it’s just always in the 40’s and 50’s, pretty much, even up to the middle of July.

My thanks go to Dave Dennnis for this very important interview. It could be a lifesaver!

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A word on tubing in the Poudre. There is almost nowhere in Poudre Canyon where it is safe to launch a tube. I am brave, even a little crazy and I won’t do it. The people who do it take advice from people who shouldn’t be giving advice about the Poudre. Tubing in the Canyon is just not advised.

Sometimes, there are stretches in town that can be tubed safely. For the foreseeable future (notice post date on this blog) the river level in town between Shields and College is at a very high level so once you launch your tube, where you go will quickly be out of your control. Tubing is for ‘lazy rivers’. The Poudre is not going to be lazy for another month or so. Fatalities happen because of unwise tubing choices, and they are never worth it. NO TUBING!!!!! At least not until the water level calms down.

That said, NOW is the time to take a whitewater rafting trip with a reputable company!!

I want to see your river pics!! Email paul@tri1025.com

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