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Kudos all around for successful Vail kayak park, new bladder system
A kayaker performs a loop in the new-and-improved kayak park in Vail on Gore Creek. The park still has a few weeks of life in it while the high country snows continue to melt.

Kudos all around for successful Vail kayak park, new bladder system

By Tom Boyd

June 25, 2008 —  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

And adding a couple hundred thou into the mix doesn’t hurt, either.

The Town of Vail first had a vision for a kayak park in the center of town about eight years ago. The homeowner’s association on the river-right-hand side of the stream (across Gore Creek from the Up the Creek restaurant), lobbied hard against it, making all kinds of outrageous claims that the river would become more dangerous and “noisy.”

That was the first and only time I heard the gentle burbling of a mountain stream referred to as, “noisy.”

What they were really scared of is that a bunch of hairbag kayakers would troll through the town, camping on their lawn, smoking dope, and playing bongos.

Little did they know that kayakers come from all walks of life and, in general, have nice haircuts and jobs, and may or may not play the bongos. Vail’s Brad Ludden has done much to improve the image of the kayaker with his First Descents kayak camp for kids with cancer, among other things.

He also did much to encourage the Vail Town Council to improve the park, which was originally built poorly, almost entirely because of the effective lobbying of the homeowners on river right of Gore Creek, who sent lawyers to town council meetings rather than show up themselves.

All those days are long past now, thank goodness, and the park has been amplified to its true potential. Even the homeowners associations have come to see the vitality the park brings to that section of town. I’ve dipped the nose of my boat into the park several times this year and been very impressed with the functioning of the new bladder system, built in part by Nick Turner (read more on that curious story by clicking on this link).

People gather en masse around the International bridge each day to watch kayakers loop and McNasty to their heart’s content in the ice-cold water, not to mention the Teva Mountain Games (of which this website is the proud new media partner).

The crowds are in awe of some of the guys out there who can throw down like pros (some of them ARE pros), and the crowd always increases when guys like Ludden, Steve-o, Hobie, and others are around (for some reason, I seem to have the opposite effect … I arrived at the hole the other day to a sizeable crowd and then, after watching me get windowshaded and roll a few times, the crowd lost interest … wonder why?).

It took a lot of foresight and a lot of cash to get the job done, so congrats to this council and former councils who have supported kayaking which, like all outdoor sports, should have a welcome home in my ol’ home town.



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