New Years Day Paddle – Carnage, Rescue and Fun

According to the Vail Daily, the temperature for the annual New Year’s Day Shoshone Paddle was 9 degrees; our coldest New Year’s Day on the river yet.

We had 8 family members in our paddling group, including my 10 year old sister, Maddy, and my brother’s fiancee, Sarah, who had never paddled this section of river before. 9 degrees is cold enough that we each needed at least two people to help put our Snap Dragon sprayskirts on because they were literally frozen stiff before we even got them wet!

The ramp leading down to the river was covered with snow and so it was a pretty fun slide into the river and the 2015 JK Zen is as fast on snow as it is on the water! After sliding into the water the only thing you could do was paddle to try and stay warm. By the the time everyone in our group was in the water our paddle blades and boats were already covered in a layer of ice. It was crazy, but so much fun.

Heading down the river, my younger sister, Maddy, in her JK SideKick, was following my dad, but we were all keeping an eye on her because even though she’d run this river many times before, it was cold and if she flipped we all wanted to get to her as fast as we could.

Plus, when ice forms around all the rocks and on the shore of the river, some new hazards form, like undercuts, and that’s the last place we’d want Maddy to end up, so all eyes were definitely on her for the entire run.

I think we were all being relatively careful and not taking any crazy lines, but of course, Dally and I had a competition to see who could stay under the water the longest. I managed to stay under for 25 seconds and beat Dally, but not without the side effects of a killer brain freeze.

As for the run, all went great until Man Eater, the last rapid on this stretch of river. Maddy found herself upside down in a pretty retentive hole and she panicked, lost her paddle and swam. I was right there about to flip her back over when she came out so I grabbed her and pulled her up onto my boat and paddled her to the ducky that Grady and Sarah were paddling.

Grady then took her straight to the take out to get her warm. Everyone else followed Grady and Sarah except for my dad and I. We paddled Maddy’s boat and paddle to the side and froze our hands off trying to drain her boat. Man, it was just crazy cold.


We then got all her gear to the take out and everything was fine, Maddy was warm and dry and there was a huge group at the take out with hot cocoa and chili, complements of Jackson Kayak’s Marty Cronin! Man, that’s just the best after an icy cold paddle!

There were a few other swims that day, and one guy swam twice. But the cool thing is no-one cared. Sure it was cold, but when you’re with a good crew, they’ve got your back and get you back into your boat, or in Maddy’s case, to the takeout to get warm. And everyone for sure had fun.

In fact, when Cardy finished the run, he hopped out of the water, carried his boat up to where everyone was hanging out and was yelling, “whoooo”. Kenny overheard a guy who was sipping hot chocolate say, “Man, these kids are crazy.”

Yep, It was the perfect way to start the new year.

Brody Kellogg

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