Cutting trees out of the river is a yearly and constant project for river enthusiasts. Darryl has taken over 350 trees out of the Eagle River alone over the past 40 years of commercially using this river. Its not required of us, but we are happy to do it to help mitigate river hazards for all users. Plus, chainsaws are cool and playing in the river is what we do, and this is just a form of that, and we find it fun and enjoyable….most of the time. Some trees have been downright SCARY to cut out!
By Cole Bangert
Suspension is a crucial part of the setup for more aggressive and advanced snowmobile riders. It changes the entire feel of the machine. Over the past several years, I’ve been spoiled by Fox Racing Shocks and have learned why great suspension makes a world of difference.
Correct suspension settings allow a rider to approach any terrain far more aggressively. With proper suspension, the sled becomes more predictable. This affects the proper ride height, weight distribution, and rebound and compression rates.
Stock suspension on most snowmobiles tends to be soft. Soft suspension creates an unsettled feeling in the sled. It can feel somewhat unstable at high speeds and unpredictable in changing snow densities. When encountering unforeseen obstacles or firm snow layers, a rider will “slap” the bottom of the suspension. This is an awful feeling. It’s a resounding slapping noise that can be heard over the motor. The result is not good. It hurts your wrists, ankles, sled, and confidence.
Aftermarket suspension, especially Fox, will not increase the amount of suspension travel you get on a snowmobile, but is infinitely more tunable. You can set it up correctly for your particular ride weight, style and terrain.
The “spring rate” is what holds you and the sled off the ground. Traditional springs are steel or titanium. Most vehicles on the road have same thing, steel springs holding the weight of the car. Most Fox Shocks for snowmobiles have an air spring. There is a pressurized air chamber holding the weight up. This offers a different feel from steel and is also highly adjustable. With nothing more than a pocket size pump, changes can easily be made on the fly.
The next point of consideration is damping. To understand damping, picture a pogo stick. When compressed, it rebounds and flings you right back up in the air. Not something you want to happen in suspension. Damping is what slows the compression and rebound so the reaction of the shock is manageable.
Damping is also adjustable. It can be as easy as using a clicker knob on the outside of the shock. There are typically high and low speed adjusters for compression and rebound. This is often confusing for riders, so here is a simple way to decipher high speed versus low speed damping:
Low speed damping is your body weight. This includes anything you are doing to the shock by pushing down with your body weight, like compressions on the face of a jump. The speed of your shock compressing and rebounding is quite slow on these.
High-speed damping comes from the ground up. This might be a square edge bump that you hit at a fast rate of speed. Your shock compression and rebound speed are very fast and abrupt. You need faster rebound on this type of obstacle because there may be multiple obstacles right after one another. If your rebound is too slow, your shock will not recover to full length before the next hit. This causes the suspension to “pack up” and operate on the bottom of the stroke, which is not a good feeling.
Good suspension is a must for any semi serious to serious snowmobile rider. It changes the game, changes how and where you will ride. It’s a major confidence booster, and confidence is everything in a rider.
For more information on snowmobile rides and the other adventures we offer near Vail, Colorado, please explore the rest of our website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com or call us at 970-476-3700.
We had a great day, and had a pretty clean run in Gore, which is always a task in itself. It’s one of the harder class V runs in the country. Ended up second in the raft division, and already looking forward to next seasons racing. We are one of the only elite teams to be made up of a single company’s raft guides. Lots of teams are a conglomerate of river experts from many walks of life, but Sage’s race team is 100% Sage guides!!
It’s not hard to see it, all the rivers are pushing up the banks all over Colorado. The usual clear waters are now totally saturated with brown sediment, twigs, branches, trees, leaves, dog toys, soccer balls, and RAFTS. Talk to any boater about it, and that springtime smirk will come out. This is always an exciting time of year for all river lovers.
The Eagle River and Gore Creek have had some big surprises already this year, and there could potentially be an even bigger one around the corner. This weekend (June 20-21) the temperatures are supposed to get very high for this area, and there is a LOT of snow still at higher elevations. If the warm air mass reaches high enough elevations, rapid snow-melt could spike the river levels even more than we have already seen this spring.
We have seen two different significant rainstorms settle on the Gore Range/Vail Pass/Camp Hale area over the past week, and each storm brought a major river level spike for about 48 hours. Now we may see a major river spike for a longer time period due to consistent high elevation temperatures. Only time will tell. We could also see the opposite, where the river levels moderate a little due to a smaller snow-pack melting than I think is still up high. I’m always optimistic, but I could be wrong. We may have already seen the peak water heights and starting this weekend could be the start of the slow diminishing trend in the river levels.
Either way the weather goes, the local rivers are and will be at their best! The Upper Eagle stretch is great class IV with lots of big waves and hard paddling. This is one of, if not the best, stretch of river to whitewater raft in the state right now. It will only be at high flows like this for a few more weeks, so take advantage!
Gore Creek is another stretch to check off the bucket list while its flowing strong. Play boating is the word on GC. Sub out the raft, slash though eddies, side-surf holes…guides that have been rafting for over a decade get off this run with a huge grin, saying “I love playing in boats, that was so fun!”