Cruises: Ron Huffmeier's Top Picks

In the past, Ron Huffmeier led a number of beginner cruises for CW. We caught up with him to ask him a few questions about his favorite cruises to lead, his own boating history, and funny stories from the cruises he has led. 

On his favorite cruises to lead...

 The Apple Valley run on the N. Saint Vrain is now huge fun among easy rivers! The Filter Plant run on the Cache la Poudre is way underrated as a fun run! This is what Ron wants beginning boaters to know.

The N. Saint Vrain rerouted itself in the 2013 flood. Since then most of the creek has been rebuilt into a series of 3 ft drops. The Lyons play park has also been rebuilt and is now slightly easier than before.

And Filter Plant is not just for beginners.  Clever paddlers of all skill levels can find about 15 play spots at levels between 800 and 1300 CFS.

To get the word out Ron has led about 90 CW members down these two streams in the last three years. He likes all aspects of leading CW cruises-planning, organizing, and especially river rescues, even chasing boats although it’s tiring. And Ron loves to see people enjoying this hidden gem of Apple Valley right in our backyard. We even had a couple drive from Oklahoma City join us for two cruises.

On how long he has been kayaking and his favorite runs...

Ron began kayaking in 1971 in those Dark Ages where all kayaks were 13 ft long.  They were all homemade of fiberglass and generally needed repairing monthly. Keyhole cockpits, back bands, throw bags, center pillars, neoprene spray skirts, safety classes— none of those had been invented yet.  River guide books were scarce or nonexistent. Living in Cincinnati meant driving 5 to 8 hours to get to the best rivers. Ron learned to kayak on the Nantahala [TN] and the lower Yough [PA]. Then on to the Ocoee [TN], New River Gorge [WV], Cheat Canyon {WV], Gauley [WV] and Chattooga [GA].  Most fun was a couple of runs thru the Cheat Narrows in flood when it was running 10 ft waves.   Scariest was  kayaking Section 4 of the Chattooga two days in a row at near-flood.  Section 4 had Class IV and V rapids in the Five Falls section, an unforgettable eye-popping experience. Favorite kayaking has been on the lower Yough [57 runs] and Brown's Canyon [17 runs] and the western classics— Westwater Canyon, the Royal Gorge and the Numbers.

On funny stories from cruises...

Rattlesnakes!   Yes, the Poudre Canyon is full of them. One slithered over a kayakers foot at the Filter Plant put in. Another was found right against the restroom at the takeout. And Ron has seen one snatched from a high ledge by an eagle. They have even been seen floating in eddys on hot days.

Ron says that he had independently arrived at the philosophy that Steven Wright presented at a recent CW dinner. Steven spoke to the subject ‘How do you win at paddling?’ You win by having fun – – it's not your type of boat, whether you paddle Class II or IV, or which section of rivers you paddle.  If you are having fun you are winning.  And Ron says ‘I am honestly having more fun than ever!’

Thanks, Ron!

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