Who is crazy enough to paddle Class III Whitewater in Colorado on New Year’s Day and exit the river covered in ice? The KelloggShow family, & friends, that’s who. 12 degree air, 30-something degree water and a bunch of rowdy kids and crazy insane adults make up a really epic Annual New Years Day Paddle on the Colorado River.
This year’s annual New Years Day paddle was one of the coldest on record. It was about 13 degrees outside, but we were pumped and raring to go. It’s a well known fact that Coloradoans are crazy, but this might surpass what most would consider acceptable crazy?
That morning, we brought the boats in from the cold, so they would warm up in the house, and all the ice on the boats could defrost. Then we loaded the boats on the truck and headed toward the river, 7 deep. My younger sister Emmy was excited to get her first solo trip down Shoshone on January 1st, but given the temperature, my mom and dad decided she would have to wait until next year, so the youngest paddler on the water was my brother, Rowdy. This is his 3rd year … he’s an old pro now.
When we got to the put in we literally sat in the truck for like 20 minutes, as none of us wanted to get out of the truck because it was so cold. But as more and more people were showing up, we finally got out and got dressed in our gear.
As Cardy and Rowdy don’t have drysuits yet, Kenny and I decided we had to wear our dry tops and shorts in solidarity with our younger brothers. No big deal, really. We’ve always been the kids in shorts, even in cold weather, so we really didn’t think anything of it.
But we were literally accosted by an older dude who was so rude to us. He called us stupid and unprepared to rescue him. He was contrary to everything that is awesome about paddling. My sister, Kady, told him “we aren’t gonna let not having drysuits stop us from doing what we love.” The guy just wouldn’t leave us alone! He kept coming back and telling us we were stupid and that stupid will get him killed.
I mean, come on man, we are solid class five boaters, and Shoshone is a ¾ mile run in our backyard. Personally, I have run it repeatedly at every level for 9 years. I’m certain could run it Bird Box style, blindfolded. While we are well aware that things happen and we are always prepared and ready for the worst, we have a great crew. Besides, three of us were in drysuits should anyone in another group need help.
And, while this guy was relentless, it just goes to show that you can’t live to make other people happy. You can’t worry about appearances, you have to be true to you.
Finally, we caught up with a bunch of our friends and were ready to send it … no negative mojo, just a whole lot of of stoke. It’s the best way to start the New Year…and we are pretty lucky as it’s rare to find a river flowing in Colorado the far into the winter, but Shoshone always has decent flow.
I’m not gonna lie, it was bone-chilling cold. Last year, it was in the 20’s and Kenny, Brody and I sent the New Year’s Day paddle in shorties with no gloves or pogies…the worst decision ever. I’m pretty sure I got frostbite on my hands. This year we were smarter, contrary to earlier references, and we wore our Kokatat dry tops and Pogies. Man, was I glad I wore those pogies, oh and my Astral shoes and warm socks!
Before even entering the water, our skirts were freezing up and my dad had to help each of us put our skirts on over our cockpits. I felt really bad for him, but he was wearing his sick Kokatat Drysuit, so he was covered.
Now, literally like a couple minutes into the run everything froze on us. We had icicles coming off our helmets, and my dad’s entire beard was frozen solid. My EARS, they went numb, I felt like I was gonna go deaf. My pogies were frozen to the shape of my hand and my drytop, skirt and pfd had a thick layer of ice on them!
Kenny, Cardy and I were throwing cartwheels down the river and just getting totally covered in ice. Despite the cold, it is super fun to paddle with my family and friends. My younger sister, Maddy, was singing, “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you.” Kady and Rowdy were hooting and hollering and my dad was just laughing hysterically.
My original plan was to just charge down to the take out it was so cold, but it was just too cold. We had to stop and take breaks to warm our hands up. It’s insane just to be out there on the water, really, in those temperatures. It’s a mental game, more than ever, because you are just so uncomfortable. Just hang on, fight through it and get to the take out.
At the takeout everyone was getting out of their boats as fast as possible, to get to warmth, but my skirt was literally frozen to my cockpit. It wouldn’t come off. I had to get some help from Katie Fankhouser!
Once I got out of my boat, I stepped onto ice and fell through. It was only like 5” deep, but it soaked my feet. After all the photo opps and after taking a few minutes to say hi to friends we hadn’t run into yet, my feet were blocks of ice! Finally, we all took off toward the truck! Cardy and I ran through 2 feet of snow, in our shorts on the way there. Eventually, we just went numb and it was great.
Once we got to the truck, we turned on the heat, grabbed a towel, swapped shoes and tried to warm my feet up. We started loading up the truck, but couldn’t take off our gear because it was completely frozen. We drove the 15 minutes to our house with the heat blasting and still, we didn’t defrost. Finally, we all just jumped in the shower all geared up and melted the ice with hot water.
Then, a trip to the Hot Springs Pool in Glenwood Springs brought our body temperatures back to normal and felt so great.