Kyle Fox had a dream. All he needed was the right pumpkin.
Fox’s hopes of one day running a river in a giant pumpkin became a reality two weeks ago when a friend and fellow member of the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers (and Rowers) association cracked a potentially prize 1,200-pounder, thus rendering it ineligible for the club’s official fall Weigh-Off.
So with a can of Expandafoam and a helmet cam, Fox and friends headed upriver of Moab, Utah, to change paddling forever.
After boring a cockpit hole in the bottom of the pumpkin, the team’s first challenge was flipping and moving the massive gourd, at well over a half-ton, into the silty waters of the Colorado. “That was a battle,” says Fox, a 35-year-old office furniture salesman from Pleasant Grove, Utah. “These pumpkins are pretty deep and you can only see a couple inches under the water, so it was scraping bottom, we were getting high-centered.”
Once in the current, despite his lack of previous river kayaking experience, Fox got the hang of things. “It’s kinda like riding a bull,” said Fox, who had to drain the waterlogged craft once, before his big rapid debut at White’s Rapid where pumpkin turned to squash.
“There goes my whole dream of riding a rapid,” says Fox. “I get stuck on a rock, tried to dance, shake, spin, then had to hop off, or abandon it. The river dropped a foot or two and it started rocking, rolling, it filled up and with all that weight, all that pressure -- I bailed.”
Even though he abandoned the pumpkin -- “Once you put one in the river, you’re not getting it back out” -- Fox has at least gained a few key river-running lessons. “More safety would be good, throwlines, friends with swiftwater training,” Fox says. “You’re talking about a 1,200-pound pumpkin, eight pounds per gallon of water, that things fills up and you put yourself between a rock and 2,000 pounds? Curtains.”
Despite the risk, the dream is still alive: “I’m left with an empty feeling that I haven’t achieved a rapid descent,” Fox says of his plans in the spring to notch a first Class III giant pumpkin run. “It will be done.”
Fox is quick to point out that flatwater pumpkin paddling is a thing, see below. Click HERE to learn more about the “whacky” culture of giant pumpkin growing.