This spring PaddleXaminer ventured to Steamboat to visit the river that served as the proving ground for Hala SUPs. It was a beautiful spring day in May, the temperature was in the low 60s with the sun out. The water on the other hand was a bit chiller and I opted to wear my drysuit. I met up with a friend in Steamboat to run a shuttle so I could get two town runs in (around four miles). There were plenty of people out enjoying the day and practicing social distancing which was encouraging to see.
I pumped up my Hala Rado for the second time this year; got a couple runs in on the Upper Colorado the week prior. I was really looking forward to taking the Rado on the Yampa. The last time I was on the Yampa was almost a year ago and I was using my Hala Straight Up back then. The Rado is a definite upgrade from the Straight Up with several specific features:
- River Rocker
- Swallow Tail
- Dynamic board shape
- Two side handles – ideal for pulling yourself back on your board after falling in
- Stompbox (retractable fin) – no supermanning off your board with a fin strike
I got my Hala Rado in July 2019 so I missed the higher flows for last season (river flows in Colorado generally peak in June depending on snowpack levels);I was excited to test my skills on the Rado with the higher flows. The Yampa was flowing around 1800 cfs which is a solid flow; there was one bridge I had to get on my knees to clear. We wanted to spend as much time on the river as possible so we put-in near the Walton Creek Road. There’s plenty of parking, a well maintained park which connects to a system of trails in town, and has easy river access.
One of the best ways to get comfortable with your board is to play around on your board on flat water or in the slower moving sections of the river. This gives the paddler a better feel for their equipment. My personal favorite is to get on the back of the board and spin around as fast as I can while trying not to fall. This helps me work on my balance on the board, and it’s a crowd pleaser.
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to fall off your board. This is the best way to learn so don’t worry about what you look like; go out, have fun, and experiment on the board, while being safe of course.
We moseyed down the Yampa, catching as many waves as we could before stopping at the Ambulance hole or A-hole so my friend could surf a while. After he was done surfing we proceeded downriver to C & D-hole. Last year I didn’t even come close to successfully navigating either of these holes. Today was different, I nailed both standing up! I was super pumped, kind of like hitting a sweet powder run while skiing!
It was a gorgeous day in Steamboat. The ski mountain, with the runs still covered in snow, stands like a sentinel over the town. The Zerkel mountain range lies to the north and the Gore Range to the south – both are depicted on Hala’s River and Carbon Series boards.These two mountain ranges are the primary contributors to the Yampa River that runs through Steamboat Springs and allows us to paddle every single day in the spring. It is also the river that inspired the start of Hala.
Thanks Hala for introducing me to the sport I didn’t know existed a few years ago, I’m hooked! We took out shortly before the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge among a crowd of people in love with the sport, I soaked it all in. What a great way to spend a Sunday during these trying times!