Running the Yampa

Lower Yampa

River Running on the Yampa
After seeing tracks on the Yampa from rive road I started planning to follow the example of a local and explore the river in winter guise.

The first little checkout revealed surface water at Walton Pond area and we only made a foray upriver for a short distance, but the idea stayed and one after after skiing I bundled up Brandi and our gear and drove to what seems a likely put in - the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Park

3b. brandi and tracks



I’m really thinking that this is just raft - river running but done in the winter on XC skis. We are soon lost in the meanders of the upper river. Each twist and turn revealed new vistas of the mountain and the valley. Past the jumping ramp, abandoned cars long over grown by river bank vegetation - was that a 1950 Ford or Cadillac - hard to tell with only a small piece of the bonnet and guard showing

As we near the Walton Pond area ducks explode from a small section of open water and circle back overhead looking for more clear water.

So far the ducks are the only actual wildlife we have seen but tracks aplenty have shown that the river is a highway for small wildlife in the winter - fox and rabbit tracks mainly.

At Walton Pond we have to decide - call it a day or push downstream (Brandi has an appointment in town at 5)

We push on and now some of the structures are more familiar - the road bridge back from River Road, and then further down we cross under the rail line a couple times. Under the bridges the river is clear of snow - and we question ourselves - Is that ice thick enough ?? I prod at the surface and am reassured but there are still some noise as we bend to cross under the support structure - mostly its just surface ice that breaks under our skis but still  ??

As we near town we have the occasional wave from River Road - the cars slow and the drivers peer out the window to actually confirm that there is someone skiing on the Yampa. Not sure what they are thinking - crazy or jealous ?

 Walkers and cyclists on the Core Trail wave as they pass.

At the last train bridge as we near town we hear the hoot in the distance and come back upstream to witness the train travelling over the bridge. The engineer spots us and we get another toot and wave from him as well.

Now as the Yampa tips downward a bit more, there is more open water and a near splash down (lucky just the back half of the skis) forces us onto the bank just 100meters prior to the 5th Street Bridge. A couple quick photos - ‘we were there’. and off strolling through town - skis over the shoulder.

Another day skiing in Steamboat.

The Record
Distance travelled 8.1kms / 5 miles
Time 1:39
4.9kph average speed / 3 miles hr
244 calories used (according to Garmin.
Temp average 13.4C  /  56F