Okay, so Colorado kayakers are a tad crazed. No where was that on better display than on the Shoshone section of the Colorado River outside of Glenwood Springs, when hundreds of paddlers gathered for the umpteenth annual frigid New Year’s float.
“At around 11 a.m., paddlers begin arriving in droves, scurrying about loading kayaks, rafts and SUPs, and bundling up in dry suits, skull caps and gloves,” says Jackson Kayak paddler and photographer Peter Holcombe, who posted a story on the icy excursion on jacksonkayak.com
Like a mass start of a marathon, paddlers in all craft imaginable then shoved off, maneuvered around ice banks, and began paddling to ring in the new year. “Icy rocks were splatted, waves were surfed and every eddy was caught by someone,” says Holcombe. “You could hear the splashing of water and whoops of joy echoing up and down the canyon. It was the love of paddling in its purest form.”
At the take-out, the cold-fingered paddlers were rewarded with vats of steaming, homemade chili and cider simmering on propane burners, and cauldrons of hot chocolate. While many called it good, others, heeding their resolution to get out on the water more this year, headed back up for laps two and three.
“It’s a tradition that I’ve embraced for over a decade,” says Holcombe. “It’s a celebration of rivers and paddlers, and a true grass roots celebration of paddling. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.”