Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of summer for us in Aspen/Snowmass. While some celebrated the beginning of summer by skiing at Aspen Mountain, others got out of town to explore the beautiful state of Colorado and experience all there is to offer. One of our designers, Blake Lockard, took off over Independence Pass to Buena Vista to check out what was going on over there. Check out what he got into below.

Paddle Fest

When I was growing up, my father took my family and me on countless rafting trips. This is where I gained deep love and respect for the river, and how I became a “river rat”. Even though I loved rafting and being on the river, I never really experienced the world of kayaking, but it’s always been intriguing to me. That changed last weekend when I went to Paddle Fest.

I’d always assumed that skiing culture and kayaking culture were fairly similar. That might be true to some degree, but wow, I was completely taken back last weekend. Kayakers are a CRAZY bunch of people.

The first night of Paddle Fest, my childhood friend’s band, Liver Down the River, played at the outdoor music venue in Buena Vista called “The Beach”. Rightly named, The Beach is right on the river, has a sandy dance floor, and a fire pit. It’s hands down one of the coolest music venues in Colorado, check it out if you ever get the chance. Anyways, the crowd at this show was simply amazing. At first, it felt like any other concert in Colorado. Most people were wearing old Chacos and drinking IPA’s; not too far out of the norm for Colorado (Colorado chic, as I like to call it). But as the night rocked on, it became apparent that crowd of kayakers could step up their dancing game more than most. I’d seen a Liver Down the River concert just 6 days before at the Belly Up in Aspen, and I hate to say this, but the crowd in Buena Vista was about ten times rowdier. I didn’t think the party would ever stop, and to my surprise I was right. After Liver Down the River finished their set, everyone ran to The Lariat (Buena Vista’s indoor music venue – also amazing) and continued to dance the night away. At this point, I was pretty beat, so we went back to our camp site to get some sleep.

The next morning, I learned another thing about the kayaking community. Everybody seems to know each other and is extremely friendly. Although hung over, everyone still had bright smiling faces and was ready to get on the water for a day of kayaking. Since I haven’t really learned to kayak yet, I spent the day checking out Buena Vista and Leadville. They’re two of my favorite towns in the state, complete with breathtaking views in every direction, and extremely down to Earth people. I met my sister for lunch in Leadville to catch up with her after her two week climbing expedition in Alaska, and we made plans to hang out again while we were both in town. Saturday was sort of my down day for the Paddle Fest weekend.

On Sunday, we went into town for breakfast and met even more kayakers who all knew each other. Again, everyone was excited to get on the river and get moving. That day I decided to go for a mountain bike ride with a new friend of a friend. We had an awesome ride. The trail system in Buena Vista is top notch!

After the bike ride, a bunch of friends went to a Memorial Day cook out, and I learned again how crazy the kayaking community is. I’d love to fill you in on the details, but trust me, it’s best that I don’t. Instead, check out the beautiful sunset from Sunday night!

And another photo…

Which brings us to Monday! Monday was a really incredible day. Even though I didn’t get on a kayak, I agreed to tag along and take photos of my boyfriend and his group of friends going down a section of the Arkansas River called “Numbers”. I learned over the weekend that Numbers is a pretty well renowned run. I haven’t really done a lot of action photography, but I’ve always been interested in it, so this was a great opportunity for me to try it out! Check out some of the photos I got below.

Chasing after kayakers in a truck proved to be a little bit difficult. In the future, I want to learn to boat, or get down the river in some means other than a raft.

Paddle Fest really opened my eyes to the world of kayaking and it felt very familiar to what I know in the ski world, yet different in it’s own special way. One thing I took away from the weekend that I can apply to my work as a graphic designer/photographer is that experiencing new things and groups of people will only help us better understand ourselves and our own ways of doing things. This coming weekend I plan to get on the river again, and I can’t be more excited!