A Brief Synopsis on the History of Boating on Barker

1998: I moved to Nederland from Sugar Loaf and built a house on 5th Street. BOB had been running experimental boating sessions on Barker reservoir that summer, and I had a chance to kayak on the lake. It was a very pleasant experience. The sessions were run by volunteers and everything went very smooth, and there was lots of positive feedback. I don’t know the exact history before that date, but I do know that BOB had been working on the project for a very long time.

1999 or 2000: The reservoir and all of the water rights were sold to the City of Boulder for water storage, because water was now more valuable than the hydro power that had been the reason for constructing the damn.

The experimental sessions were terminated immediately by the city of Boulder and a “professional study group” was hired by the city of Boulder to determine appropriate us of the reservoir.

All of the work that BOB had accomplished was essentially scrapped, and we were told to go back to square one. I went to approximately five meetings over the next two years and listened to these “professionals” lie and allude and basically do everything in their power to drag out the process and wear us out while they fed us bad hors d’oeuvres. I believe this was all part of their lawyers plan.

The final consensus was that each boater would bring 2.4 dogs and that they would pollute the water. That was all they could find against it. This was at a City of Boulder city hall meeting which I attended about 2001 and I’m sure that it is part of the City records.

The Boulder city council essentially laughed them out of the meeting, but they had wasted more than 2 years and had essentially accomplished their goals.

We were told that we could possibly have boating, but it was up to the town of Nederland to finance and redo all the work that had already been done.

I personally decided that the political process was a farce, and decided to paddle elsewhere. This meant driving down the canyon or Peak to Peak hiway which wasted my time and polluted the atmosphere.

Gross reservoir now has boating because the FERC required them to, and I have not heard of any problems. The Boulder Lawyers managed to dodge the FERC, because it’s no longer producing electricity. The last meeting that I went to they said that they were going to build a half million dollar deceleration structure to return the water to the river by the old hydro plant, because fixing the bearings was not cost effective. That seems about as stupid as anything I’ve ever heard of, and I can’t understand why they don’t just put the water back in the river where it belongs. When the lake is full, it is not an eyesore, but when it is half empty it is not a pleasant sight. It is essentially a storage tank for the city of Boulder, and we should at least be able to use it.

Slide Show at Red Fox North America April 20

Dancing on the Edge of an Endangered Planet with John Mattson

Red Fox North America.
424 Main Street, Lyons Colorado 7PM
Come join John Mattson as he reflects on a lifetime of adventures and exploration. His journey spanning six continents includes climbing ascents of magnificent desert spires, kayaking some of the world’s deepest canyons, as well as high peak climbing and ski adventures. Driven by his love for the environment and deep desire to follow his dreams of exploration, Mattson’s stories are both highly entertaining and inspiring. Mattson will also be selling his book, “Dancing on the Edge of an Endangered Planet” at the event, delving in even deeper into his life of adventure.     Boulder Weekly article about John’s adventures.

The Last Powder Dance

The air is brisk, but the sun shines warmly on our faces, as we reach the summit of a small mountain and prepare for the descent. The views are magnificent, and our minds approach Nirvana as we quickly strip our skins, and prepare for the descent.

The snow is knee deep and the whole mountain is covered with a magical blanket of untracked virgin powder. Our young brains are almost overwhelmed as we hurriedly decide what the best descent route will be. We have experienced this pleasure before, so the descent is anxiously awaited, and our minds awaken to the thought of sheer bliss. A short traverse reveals a 30 degree slope that cannot be passed, and I suddenly find myself dancing in the deep snow. The gentle gliding of skis over the beautiful crystals of frozen water is mesmerizing, and the rhythm of symmetrically carved turns pulls my mind into a trance.

Dancing is an elegant form of art and deep powder skiing is like a grand ballet. The skis become part of my body as they float back and forth with a magical rhythm while my upper body gently floats along enjoying the pure thrill of the flying snow and bright sunshine.

The joy of deep powder skiing combines the merriment of an athletic body with the wonders of nature and is one of the greatest thrills that I have ever experienced. I can easily understand how these thrills can drag someone into a very dangerous situation.

The snow is so beautiful and the interaction with nature seems perfect, but the danger is hiding and waiting to strike. It is hard to fathom how something this beautiful could be so dangerous. The thirty degree slope is very enjoyable, but a steeper slope keeps tempting us, because we know that the thrills will be even greater. My previous experience tells me that it’s dangerous, but the snow feels very solid, and my silly brain is suddenly overwhelmed and not thinking clearly. The fears of a big avalanche are suddenly erased by the quiescence of the day and that untracked forty degree slope looks so inviting. My heart is pounding, but my mind has already made the decision, as we venture up to the summit once again.

We are both eager to go first, but my partner charges into the realms of the untracked bliss. I watch in envy as he carves effortless turns through the virgin snow, but the envy quickly vanishes as I watch a small sluff break into the second layer, and continue to the ground. The innocent slope suddenly turns into a raging tornado of powder combined with large slabs of wind packed snow, and I watch helplessly as my friend disappears into the maelstrom.

I stand for a moment in total shock, and then quickly rush down to look for him. We are both wearing beacons, and I quickly find his location with my probe, but he is deeply buried in a tomb of frozen crystals that are nearly as hard as concrete. I dig frantically for almost half an hour, and know that his time is running out. My arms are totally exhausted and my knuckles are bleeding as I struggle desperately to find him and free him from the frozen snow. My heart is pounding as I finally reach his body, but the sparkle in his face has vanished and his pulse is gone. I struggle with CPR, for more than an hour, as I watch his body gradually die and turn into to a cold lifeless mass. He has been a great friend, and watching him die will leave a memory that I will never forget, but I hope this story will prevent other such events.

Fortunately this tale is fiction, but there are many similar ones that are not. There is an old joke that a human male does not have enough blood to fill his penis and his brain at the same time. This same logic can also relate to deep powder snow. The anticipated thrill can often cause the brain to forget about the imminent danger. Avid skiers have invented a word called “foaming” to express this feeling. I have experienced foaming on many occasions, and I have relied on luck a few times, but that is like playing Russian Roulette. I have learned to calm my brain by stopping to dig a pit, and thinking about my four old friends who died in avalanches.

New Review for “Dancing on the Edge of an Endangered Planet”

 

Wild tales of adventure and a bit of inspiration is the subtitle of this book. Wild tales, indeed!
Author John Mattson may have started life on the lonely prairies of North Dakota, but boy oh boy did he ever pack a hundred years of adventures into one life. From page one to 252, I don’t think anyone could jam more sights, adventure, craziness and unharnessed will to live into one book. This was a fun one to read.

 

Starting out a college student who decides to try alpine skiing on a whim, then moving on to being a rodeo cowboy, a rock climber, a free spirited kayaker , a river explorer, and more, this is a story that made me think how I wish I could have done just one of these things! Full of old photographs and tall tales galore, Mattson easily and humbly describes his life enjoying the many natural splendors of our planet–and the dangers as humanity’s greed and evil lay bare the ecosystems that Mattson holds dear.

 

Although it is not a literary masterpiece–there are a few typos, and the oversized manuscript is a little unwieldy, the typeface choppy–I don’t doubt for a minute that Mattson ever intended for it to be a highbrow book. His wild storytelling feels like you’re sitting next to him at a bonfire, sipping coffee, swapping tales. His enthusiasm for life and extreme sports is never told with a haughty swagger, but almost with an innocent, slightly crazy daredevil’s smirk, in natural country boy I can’t believe I actually did that twang that makes you feel entirely at ease–even as you are stepping off an alpine cliff with him, ready to slalom to the bottom on homemade skis.

 

Dancing on the edge takes you from country to country , from the US to Belize, Nepal, Chile and more, as cars break down and are left roadside, as small groups of hardcore adventurers sleep in caves and under the stars, as avalanches and river rapids and danger-filled landscapes threaten them at every pass. I truly appreciated Mattson’s descriptive talents as he took the time to look for and tell the reader about natural wonders along the way: sunlight sparkling on river rapids, flocks of ewes on mountaintops, the simple but delicious foods he enjoyed. He speaks often of the friendships he made, and often cites near strangers by name, as if tipping a gloved hand to them for the warm memories they made together.

 

I found it fascinating that he also includes great mechanical and engineering detail about equipment used and locations visited (in between jumping off mountains and sliding down rivers, he earned an engineering degree and is a designer-builder). Because of this attention to minuscule details and embellishments, I really felt like I was there, too.
If you’ve ever wished that you could just lock up your house and take a wild trip around the world, with no luxurious hotels and a/c to distract you from enjoying the natural planet and its people, take a copy of this book and read away. You’ll be wiping sweat off your brow and steadying your heart rate in no time.

 

Review by Alicia Accardi
Closed the Cover

 

 

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