It’s that time of year...Spring!
The sun is out. Well, it’s always out in Pagosa Springs. But the aspens are blooming and the snow in the high country is melting. It could also be considered the beginning of festival season. And every year in May an event called “Pagosa Paddle” is held on the San Juan River.
It’s put on by Tim Brink, a local school psychologist and also the founder of the Colorado-Oregon Rafting Team. The mission is simple. Have a good time racing through whitewater while generating community support for river activities in the area and the cORT rafting team.
It also happens to have quite the motto…“The Most Epic Whitewater Event in Colorado.” But what makes it epic?
“It’s epic because you can sit in the hot springs and have a cocktail and watch everybody race and we’re the only type of whitewater event that has that type of a namesake” says Tim Brink. “Every other event I’ve done we’re hiking out in the boondocks and the weather might be nasty but this is just a great spectator venue. We have bike paths along both sides of the river and the hot springs is right there and it’s world famous. And geez, it’s nice to sit in a hot tub, watch people race and have a cocktail.”
Upon arriving to the event, locals were out in full force helping the event get underway. Many worked in the local school district. The kind of individuals that have a passion for education but also the active mountain lifestyle. Which means they are not only volunteers but also competitors.
It wasn’t long until various teams of families, local businesses businesses and even professional rafting teams like the USA Women’s Team, launched into the San Juan River and navigated the gates and rapids. And each competitor was just as encouraging to those they were racing against.
Rafts. Kayaks. Inflatable Kayaks. Stand Up Paddleboards.
Crowds quickly filled in along the river walk to watch the action with the best seats in the house being across the river at the The Springs Resort and Spa, cocktails in hand.
The head-to-head action was fast and intense. But the crowd favorite was a gigantic stand up paddle board that fit six adults. As it went through the wave “mother chucker”, the crowd cheered, laughed and hollered as somehow none of the riders fell into the water. For round two, they put the SUP board on top of a raft but weren’t quite as lucky getting through the first wave with one rider falling off.
At the end of the day, the participants reminisced the days events as they watched the highlights on the big screen at the after party.
“I want them to walk away with what we did the first year and that’s they had a hell of a lot of fun and it’s something they want to do again. And it’s just a good time to have fun with no consequences and to meet people and just have a good fond memory of the river in Pagosa Springs,” said Tim.
With over double the number of participants from the previous year, I think that’s exactly what happened.