The Dogg Diaries: Rocky Mountain Rambling

(Disclaimer: This is satire. If you can’t take it as such, please don’t read this story.)

Bobby "The Dogg" Miller dropping off Big Timber Falls
Bobby “The Dogg” Miller dropping off Big Timber Falls. (Photo: Tim Kunin)

by: Bobby “The Dogg” Miller

Things were drying up in the Eastern US and it was time to pack up the Doggmobile and head West. I dropped the car off for a quick tune-up before the long journey. When I got the car back, there was 1,000 extra miles on it, sand on the floorboards, and a pair of woman’s underwear in the trunk. I should have known that I couldn’t trust the mechanics at Camel’s Towing and Automotive! The car ran fine so I let it go and focused on my trip.

The destination was the Rocky Mountains, where there were still many stones for the Dogg to unturn! Many people poo-poo the Rockies and consider them to be a stopping point on your way to somewhere better, but I beg to differ. The Rockies are like the Candy Corn of paddling: not for everyone but enjoyed by many great individuals for decades and decades so there has to be something the Rockies are doing right! A western trip was just the thing to refurbish my tranquility!

Keith Pendergrast and I drove 24 straight hours and arrived in Golden, Colorado early in the day. It is always a challenge to stay awake on a drive of that magnitude. I popped 60 mg of Adderall and a Monster 300 Triple Caffeine shot and I was good to go! We were staying at my long-time friend Scott’s house, so we used our early arrival time to take a quick nap to rest up for an afternoon and evening full of whitewater boat riding.

Front Range Mank

Around lunchtime, we dropped by the bagel shop for some food and headed out. A word of warning to my East coast friends, Colorado has different rules on what is legal. You can imagine my surprise when my everything bagel had weed and cocaine mixed in with the salt, onion, and sesame! They weren’t kidding when they said everything! I was dancing like an Indonesian scarf caught in the wind!

The Dogg enjoying the mank in Eldorado Canyon. (Photo: Keith Pendergrast)

The first destination was Eldorado Canyon on South Boulder Creek, which is full of the steep mank that the Dogg loves! Oh yeah! This is the kind of run that gets the Dogg’s tail wagging! The steep rapids provided plenty of boofs and fast maneuvers mixed in with pinned trees and sieves. It was a tricky way to start the trip, but this was no time to act like a kitty spooked by a cucumber. I had to bury my fear monster and get on the water! It was time to do battle in the mank! In the end, it was a fantastic run but those abrasive Front Range rocks had given both me and my boat a pounding. I walked away from that run with teeth marks on my butt, the kind you usually pay for!

Keith Pendergrast boofing on Clear Creek. (Photo: Sarah Chapelle)

Our evening found us on Clear Creek at a fluffy and friendly flow. We joined a group of Golden locals for a fast lap back to town. With several fun drops like the Narrows and Rigormortis, this run is always a classic worth hitting! After all, the sun is warm, the grass is green, and life is good!

Ark Valley Schweeeeet Action

Bobby boofs into the Lake Creek Brain rapid. (Photo: Keith Pendergrast)

The next day, we took a trip to the Arkansas Valley to hit up Lake Creek. This run has some awesome rapids with must-make moves and big consequences. I came all this way for SIK drops so it was time to get that bread! The warm-up drop is The Brain, which is an 8-foot ledge with a big hole and a schweeeeeeet boof lip to jump over it.

Bobby running Paralyzer on Lake Creek. (Photo: Keith Pendergrast)

The creek quickly heads into Paralyzer, which is a large drop pushing hard into a jagged and sharp rock pile with the only clean spot on the far left. That rock pile is hard to avoid and has done more picking and flicking than the pinky finger of a restless 8-year-old with a mild head cold! I lined everything up and drove hard left, catching the shelf and getting a HUGE launch into the eddy at the bottom. Oh Yesh! It was SCHWEEEEEET! You no longer have to sit at the kids’ table when you bust out big boy moves like that!

Into the fold in the mighty Cauldron on Lake Creek. (Photo: Keith Pendergrast)

After a half-mile of manky rapids, I came to the final and perhaps most dramatic drop of the run, The Cauldron. A long, steep entrance leads to a curling 15-foot drop through a narrow pinch in the bedrock. The entrance rapid was bigger than expected and careens back and forth off pillows and over ledge holes. I got jerked around more than a howler monkey in a field of horny goat weed!

Finally, I reached the bottom drop, which lined up and drove left down the final flume, plunging into the boiling chaos at the bottom and resurfaced upright and happy! Oh Yesh! The line was executed to perfection! It flat out can’t be done any better! You can’t triple stamp a double stamp!

It had been an awesome run on Lake Creek! We still had plenty of daylight left so we celebrated with a stop at McDowells for a Big Mick and prepared to paddle again. Our evening adventure was a fun cruise on the Pine Creek and the Numbers section of the Arkansas that truly was the icing on the cake of a fantastic day!

Bluegrass Creek: Be Like Beethoven

After a fun big water day on the Poudre River complete with a stop at the Kum and Go, we headed north to Wyoming and Bluegrass Creek with Sean Chapelle and Tim Kunin. The shuttle was long and tricky but we were able to find the put-in where the creek emerges from the side of a hill.

Sean Chapelle drops put-in falls on Bluegrass Creek. (Photo: Tim Kunin)

Things start off quickly with two 10-foot waterfalls in a row. Fast water carried us another mile through narrow areas of brush and off a 12-foot waterfall. It truly was a spectacular section and we contemplated walking up to run it again. However, we had miles and miles of paddling left and decided to save that idea for later in the day.

Bluegrass Creek main event. (Photo: Sean Chapelle)

After 15 miles of easy paddling (and 23 fences to duck), there was a row of boulders and the creek suddenly disappeared into a mini gorge down a terrifying rapid! The Main Event! Hold me closer, tiny dancer! What? Who says crap like that! By this point, I was hungry enough to eat the south end of a northbound squirrel but I had forgotten to pack some food. Luckily, I found a piece of bear scat as I walked down to scout. Unbeknownst to many, this is actually nature’s granola bar. Bears eat lots of nuts and fruit and not all of it gets absorbed, providing a nutritious snack for a Dogg, which I devoured on the scout.

The rapid had three parts that got progressively bigger and finished with a 15-foot falls through a folding crack in the bedrock. As large as the curler coming off the right wall was, it looked nearly impossible to run this rapid and finish upright. The discussed plan was to try to get as high on the curler as possible and ride it over the drop. However, I did not like this idea, so my focus was to drive left and boof to the left side of the curler and hope to avoid a meltdown. I was a little surprised when Tim and Sean told me they thought it was a terrible idea and would never work. I knew I could ace the line, so I acted like Beethoven when he was told he would never be a great composer because he was deaf, I just didn’t listen!

Bobby in the thick of the Main Event on Bluegrass Creek. (Photo: Sean Chapelle)

I got in my boat and charged through the first part, where there was a weird curler. The eddy line grabbed my edge and I had to brace to stay upright, not the best feeling when heading immediately into the second drop. The second drop had a huge hole that was backed by a wall. I thought to myself, “Be a goldfish!” I was able to keep my bow up over the hole and drove right to left toward the boof. In the Upset of the Day sponsored by Pepto Bismol, I yeeted my kayak outward, clearing the fold and the boiling hole at the bottom, emerging upright and free from danger!

Tim followed but got taken deep by the seam and resurfaced in the boil. He got pounded against the right wall by the curtain but hung in there for a long time. It was like when you notice a crack pipe in your Uber driver’s cup holder, you just got to close your eyes and wait for it all to be over. Eventually, he swam out and got to shore easily above the last 10-footer that exits the gorge. Sean decided the left line was the way to go and had a good run with a quick roll. The remainder of the creek was pleasant and we cruised through grinning ear to ear!

Big Timber: Laying Treats

Big Timber put-in.

We made the drive 7-hours north to Big Timber, Montana, fueled by energy drinks and a stuffed jackalope that we purchased at the Pump and Pak quick stop. We were in it to win it! Nothing gets the old rig rolling like the promise of SIK drops!

Driving up the gravel road to Half Moon Campground, I had a feeling of excitement Oh yesh! I was yeasted like the Pillsbury Dough Boy! Unfortunately, we got stuck behind a slow driver with an amusing bumper sticker that read, “Are You Following Jesus This Closely?” We lucked out and he pulled over to let us pass.

Upon arriving at the campground, we found the perfect campsite with access to the creek, got geared up, and started hiking. We followed the roar of the waterfalls up the trail like a restless firefly chasing lights in a dark forest! Big Timber has long been a goal of mine. With a plethora of huge slides, infamous rapids, and an insane amount of gradient, this creek has more spunk than a hotel hand towel!

We took our time on the way up to scout the drops and plan our routes. Once on the creek, it was very apparent that Big Timber is the real deal! It certainly lived up to the hype as we started down the first of many long steep slides. There was some wood to portage early on and we had to be careful in the steep creek bed to keep eddies in sight.

At one point, Tim got stuck against a log and yelled back, “Help! Tree!” I had to laugh at him because that tree certainly wasn’t going to help him! He was able to slide under it, but that definitely served as a warning to scout everything to be sure. We had no guide so the creek had a cool expedition feel to it.

Soon, we hopped out to scout the Pinch, which signals the start of the steepest section. The Pinch is a humongous slide beginning with a sweet 12-foot boof ramp and finishing with a squeeze between the cliff walls at the bottom. With a drop this crazy, preparation can only take you so far, sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and go for it!

The Dogg getting yeasted in the Gambler on Big Timber. (Photo: Tim Kuinin)

I slid off the bank and immediately launched a SIKy off the boof ramp. I gained speed as I shot down the slide humming like an idle lightsaber and reaching speeds in excess of 255 miles per hour using actual LIDAR measurements! I pulled over in the eddy to cool my boat off from all that speed. My hull was hot enough to smooth the wrinkles out of an old man’s dewlap!

Tim amongst it in the Gambler on Big Timber.

More fun slides carried us to The Gambler, a twisting slide that drops steeply into a walled-in hole. We set safety here in case either of us got stopped, but we both gav’er the old 4 engine run, blasting through the hole and keeping it moving downstream.

Big Timber Falls

We continue onward through more fun drops and slides before hopping out at our preplanned exit point below the bridge, to hike down to Big Timber Falls. Big Timber Falls is an amazing rapid, visually one of the most impressive runnable drops I have seen and very intimidating. I was nervous, but knew this was a drop that I must do battle with. There’s nothing like letting the gods of war ignite your ego to do something scary. I must say that by the time I got to the put-in rock, my shorts had more skid marks than a runaway truck lane on a coastal mountain highway!

The crux move was at the top where the water cascaded 15-20 feet down into a rock island that splits the flow. It looked like either side would be fine, with right preferred, but hitting that rock-island at full speed would really take the slack out of your bag!

The Dogg laying treats off Big Timber Falls. (Photo: Tim Kuinin)

I ferried out and dropped in on the right side of the flow with some right angle. I cruised into the right side of the slide and continued to build speed as I headed for the banked turn off the cliff on the right. I swung to the left and went over the 30+ foot waterfall into the pool at the bottom. What an awesome rapid!

Tim styles Big Timber Falls.

After celebrating in the pool at the bottom, I talked over the rapid with Tim. I told him that the rapid was even better than it looked and he absolutely HAD to run it! Tim walked up there and styled a perfect line down the slide and off the falls.

We paddled down to our campground and chilled by a campfire, talking the whole time about how awesome Big Timber is! I was happier than an ant riding a Sea-Doo through a puddle under a urinal in a gas station men’s room!

The next morning was the last paddling day of the trip so we hiked back up and bombed down the run again, laying some awesome treats on all the big rapids. Like Willie Nelson, Big Timber finished the trip on a high!

Home Bound But Not Down

Driving back East, I relived a thousand memories that I had created on this fast and furious trip. I was thankful for a break since I had developed a slight tear in my rotator cuff from doing too much fist-pumping at the bottom of so many SIK drops!

What a great set of incredible kayaking days one after another, consecutively, in a row! We got on several fun runs, visited some new areas, saw some old friends, and had a spectacular time! There were no toe nails in my cheesecake! I can’t wait to return to the Rockies for more adventures!

(If you loved this Dogg tale, be sure to read his many other ramblings HERE.)

The post The Dogg Diaries: Rocky Mountain Rambling appeared first on EXPLORING ELEMENTS.

The Dogg Diaries: Rocky Mountain Rambling