Running the Yampa

Upper Yampa


Feb 21st from Phippsburg to Stagecoach Dam Marina
With the weather still cold I’m keen to do some more river running.
We head south to the town of Phippsburg (dropping our car at Stage Coach Lake)
Google maps tells me that its about 10 miles (16kms) from Phippsburg to our take out at Stage Coach lake camp area

It’s funny but all my references have us river running - why ? Because that is exactly what it felt like.
Launch point  Rout County Road 12 - just prior to Phippsburg. Find a safe car park and wander a couple hundred meters to the bridge and push off. Next stop Stagecoach Lake.

The river shows all features of an old flood plain with multiple and I do mean multiple twists and turns where it winds back on itself.
We are waved off by the local coyote who watches us  leave with much interest. He obviously has been using the river a a thoroughfare as his tracks lead us downriver. Soon we are lost in this floodplain - the views keep changing - at one stage we are virtually going up river and south, and then around the next corner west and then north.
Giant ‘willows’ show up down river and soon a couple bald eagles reveal themselves perched high in the branches   We are in their home country and dodging some ‘open water looking leads’ we edge closer - hoping for the ultimate view.  One doesn’t like the couple and peals down over our heads and as he heads upstream. The other eagle sits aloof and simply watches us passing. Very cool

We continue downstream and surprise some geese who leave their open water pond in a hurry - wings flapping hard against the river snow. Each push of the wings leave distinctive marks on the snow.

Around the next corner a beaver watches for just a moment and then dives and disappears. First wild beaver sighting for me and now I look for the dam - no sign of that, but a bit further down a  beaver lodge is seen on the bank, but it seems to far away from the water for a underwater entrance - but I guess there is one

Lots of twigs and branches have been harvested by the beavers for food during the inter and I guess they are all stored in the lodge.  …………….

We continue our river journey - only once being forced onto the bank to pass exposed water.

The river continues its serpentine way - past the power pole on the hill - which we have seen from all sides - past three curious horses - are we going to give them food. They are unsure of us and keep their distance in a snow covered paddock

A steady downstream wind helps us mostly - although at times we turn across and even against it.  Seemingly open leads of water are actually frozen but we don’t trust them and stay our distance mostly - only occasionally using them as high speed sections - it’s easier than the snow covered sections. No load cracks - so we feel ok.

At about the 5kms mark we are close to Rout County Road 14 - the route from Stagecoach to join 131 and then we move away in the valley as the river meanders. A couple oxbow bends - areas now cutoff form the main flow also offer us small shortcuts in our progress downstream

Our gamin bike computer records us moving at 5 km hr ie just over 3 miles an hour. Straight line distance is just over 7kms (4.5 miles) but we do more than 14kms (8.6miles) to get to the edge of Stagecoach Lake.  
Here the journey changes - we leave behind the twists and turns and stride across the lake direct towards the Stagecoach Marina where we have parked our car. It’s only 2kms until we hit land again but he distances are deceiving on the open exposed area

We scramble across sand dunes of snow through snowy car parks until we find our transport - quietly nestled behind a large snow bank where we left it.  Journey complete.

Next year - Steamboat to Craig - or as far as the frozen ice of the Yampa will allow.

The record
distance traveled 14.13kms - 8.6miles
Time 2:48 mins
5kph  average speed - 3miles hr
480 calories used  (according to the Garmin record)
Temp average  16.1 C - 60 degrees