Local river lover wins a Rocky Mountain Raft for peak flow prediction

John Christensen Wins Raft

Eagle River Watershed Council’s inaugural Peak Flow Prediction contest provided the opportunity to win a Rocky Mountain Raft for anyone who could correctly guess the date of the Eagle River’s peak.

With all of the late snow, cooler early summer temperatures and rain, runoff in the Eagle was prolonged and the peak was later this year than typical, peaking on July 1 at 11 a.m. with a flow of 7,480 cubic feet per second.

The contest had just short of 150 guesses submitted. The contestants had varying knowledge and experience — some drawing on years of data available online, others on gut extinct. However, the majority guessed that flows would peak around the first two weeks of June with flows between 4000 and 6000 cfs at the Gypsum gauge.

In a typical year, one of those guesses might have been the winner, but this year was anything but typical. The winner was the contestant that made the latest guess of June 29 — Jon Christensen of Eagle.

Another contestant guessed June 29 so the tie-breakers of time and flow had to be used to determine Timm Paxson of Vail as the runner-up. Paxson will enjoy a three-day canoe trip for two with Centennial Canoe Outfitters. The third-place winner, Jill Kelsall of Avon, walks away with a $500 dining certificate from Vail Resorts.

Like many of the winners, Kelsall made three guesses and also walked away the winner of fifth place, which was three dry bags from Sea to Summit. Joe Robinson of Edwards took home an Orvis backpack for the fourth-place guess and Gary Brooks grabbed the sixth place prize of two REI day packs.
In a release, Watershed Council executive director Holly Loff said, “This contest was a lot of fun, people really got into it. And it raised over $2,000 for our outreach programs and stream restoration projects. Thanks to everyone that participated.”

The Watershed Council plans to run the contest again next April. Contest information will be announced in their newsletter, The Current, in the spring. Registration for the newsletter is free online at erwc.org.

The Watershed Council has a mission to advocate for the health and conservation of the Upper Colorado and Eagle River basins through research, education, and projects. Contact the Watershed Council at (970) 827-5406 or visit www.erwc.org.

This article ran in the Vail Daily on July 17, 2019.

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