Yule Creek, Colorado, US
01. Headwaters Run
||V (for normal flows)
Quarter Mile rapid
Quarter Mile rapidPhoto of J Sandage by Gordon Dalton
"The Headwaters Run" on Upper Yule Creek is the alpine sister of the famous "Lower Yule" - seen in
videos like Valhalla and Aphrodisia. The Upper run lacks the dramatic falls and big slides of the
Lower run, but makes up for it with continuous and lengthy class IV-V boulder rapids and several
20+ foot cascades. Upper Yule flows within the Raggeds Wilderness area, and the scenery is superb
throughout the run. This run has been described as "expedition-lite taining" due to its difficult
accesibility and how rarely this section of creek is paddled.
The first rapid (Quarter-Mile
, IV+), coursing through a mini-gorge within a flower-filled
meadow, is a long (hence the name), easy slide with a nice 5-foot boof at the end and several
mini-slides along the way. After Quarter Mile
, the creek turns into mild riffles as it
meanders through willows in a wide valley (Thompson Flats). As the creek leaves Thompson Flats it
drops into the first of several pseudo-gorges and the action heats up. There are some nice, long
sections of IV-V water, but there are also one or two very ugly VI-ish drops that should be
portaged (or at least thoroughly scouted). Wood is a concern, and had prevented a run prior to
June, 2003 when the creek was first descended by Gordon Dalton, Josh Sandage, Don Smith and Nate
Mack. Please know ahead of time where the takeout is located.
The creek's finale is a very long, manky, class V+ rapid sprinkled with log jams. After this the
creek immediately enters the Quarry Ledge
, and then Gleaming The Cube
, a rapid made
up entirely of massive, square, white marble blocks discarded from the quarry above. Wild.
would be a sweet drop if not for the heinous mandatory portage below. You can scout
, Quarry Ledge
, and the mandatory portage by hiking up the very short tourist
trail past the Marble Quarry. Several drops here, and above, remain unrun at this time.
Take-out: Leave a vehicle at the lower Marble Quarry trail parking area, or plan on hiking the road
a short distance (less than 1/2 mile) back to the put-in after your run. You shouldn't need to set
a shuttle. One car will do.
Put-in: From the town of Marble take the Quarry road across the Crystal River and head south toward
the quarry. You will pass the "Tai Chi Ranch", a bible camp, and several avalanche paths. As the
road begins to switchback, start looking for a small (2-3 car) pullout on the right. There is a
small wooden sign nearby reading "Yule Creek." This is the trailhead. The hike-in is class V. The
trail goes directly uphill (no switchbacks, just dead-arrow straight!) for 2 miles or more. When
you finally crest the big hill you will see Yule Creek below. The trail then drops into the
beautiful, wide, alpine valley called Thompson Flats. Here the trail crosses the creek and
continues upstream along the river-right side. Keep going upstream - it is worth it - towards
treeline. The final boof of Quarter Mile
will be visible in the distance from the creek
crossing. We put-in around 10,000 feet elevation.
Have fun! Scout and keep an eye out for wood, and one or two probably-portaged rapids. Use the
"Post A Comment" button on this page to let us know what level and conditions you encountered on
your run. As of this writing, the creek has only been paddled twice. Enjoy.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-06-08 13:19:09