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Old 02-07-2005   #1
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 27
Animas questions

I am considering running the Animas (Silverton) this summer.

I will canoe (ww, with all appropriate gear).

Here is what I understand. Please correct anything I am wrong about.

About 25 miles to Tacoma. (You can get out at Tacoma and catch the train if you work it out with the train folks.)

Gradient is about 80 fpm and is pretty consistent. Three notable and serious rapids, all class IV even at lowest runnable levels and get higher with more volume.

The top section is rocky mountain stream. After maybe halfway the river gets broader and less congested.

Water is real cold, dry suit cold, even in July.

Altitude is a factor to be considered.

Wife, bearing camping supplies, could take the train halfway and meet us. to make it a 2 day.

I will not venture into Upper Rockwood Box so not to worry there.

The run is generally class III and IV with the big 3 all being solid IV's.

Here are my questions:

What is the lowest that it has been, can be, run?

Is the upper section similar to the Lottus Creek or Todd's Slot section of the Taylor? I ask because the gradient is similar and it is reported to be a mountain stream. I have run all that several times so could compare or contrast. If this is a bad example then to what would you compare it?
I am already aware of the great beauty. This is one of the factors that attracts me. Is the river pretty constant class III water or is it more swift open with interspersed rapids?

Taking out the Rockwood Box and the three big rapids, how would you rate it? I am looking for a sense of the rest of the river at low water.

If the gauge reads 600 cfs, what does that mean at the top? Am I dragging?

I was planning late July. Any thoughts about that?

thanks for the help. Chris Kelly

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Old 02-07-2005   #2
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 59
I think you are on the right track but I would disagree on some things. These are only my opinions.

I would consider it a class IV with three class Vs. No matter what the level, No Name is a class V. I would consider it a higher rateing because it is very long and very cold. The last day I paddled it last year about July 6 I could still see my breath at 3pm. Any carnage on the river makes it very hard to retrieve a boat or any gear because it is very continuous. That being said it is much easier when the water gets lower. I still think you need to able to paddle miles of class IV. When it is low it can be tricky in a different way. I have not heard of anyone doing it in an open boat but I'm sure it can be done. I think it can be paddled as low as 300-400cfs in Silverton. Late July would be pushing it but the San Juans have 153% snowpack and we are in the middle of big storm, so it is looking good. When I took that trip in July it was at the very end, I think it only ran one or two more days after that. I have not ran the Taylor river but I understand that the river is II/III and I would not consider the Upper A similar to that. Again, that is just one opinion.

I hope this helps.

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Old 02-07-2005   #3
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 168
I've only done it a high water, but based on my experience, I would suggest having either a skirt or airbags so tight you can't breathe. It is definitely not pool drop. The action never drops below class III, and the reason it is so cold is that you get B-slapped in the face no less than 20 times per minute. It would be a cool open boat trip as long as you can paddle a half swamped canoe, because bailing would be pointless.
Good Luck, its a beautiful river.
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Old 02-07-2005   #4
N. Wigston's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 557
i don't know if you can ride the train and get off in the middle of the river. you might want to double check on that. you can get on/off at tacoma, but i think that's it.
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Old 02-07-2005   #5
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,727
I don't know all the details but Tacoma is not the only stop. The train stops somewhere in the middle where you can cross a foot bridge to camp. I believe you need to have someone (not boating) escort any gear to camp.
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Old 02-07-2005   #6
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
You can have the drop it at a number of different drops- most common is the footbridge at Needleton. If you have the wife to wait with the stuff, she can offload there and you can hike the gear into a camping spot away from the railroad. Mountain Waters Rafting has their campsite near there.

This ticket for the wife will be about $50, but gear is cheap- I think its about $15 per 100 lbs.

I would agree with Bigboater- you're going to have a long day if it's still running strong (more than 3 feet on the Tacoma Gague), because it's constant big class III just about the whole way, but especially past No Name. Lots of bailing. I've never done the Upper below 3 feet, so I'm not sure how lower water changes the swamp factor.

However- if you're an openboater and that's your primary option, it can be done. I'm sure one of the Whiley sisters have done it. Hell, I went with the Boogieman (I think his name was Chris), but the guy riverboarded the entire Upper on a 1 day in a drysuit. If you have the option, I would C1, though- just to keep as dry as possible.
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Old 02-08-2005   #7
Drew Beezley
Posts: n/a
Hey Chris,
Don't know if you remember me. I used to live in columbia. I'm friends with Witzig. I now live in Durango. I took Steve and some other columbia folks down the upper A last summer. You should talk to steve about it. We did an overnight and camped at needleton. Yes, you can load your gear on the train. You must book those reservations well in advance. I believe it was around $50 for the first 100 pounds of freight (for both delievery and pickup), but I would have to double check that. If you don't want to overnight it, then it is very possible to run it in a day. The logistics are far less complicated.

If you are looking to catch a train ride then you must also pay for a full priced ticket, no matter where you get on the train. The train may or may not stop at tacoma for you. They do have to make designated water stops along the way and I believe one is around tacoma. I have always run the rockwood box, so I'm not sure. Your other option is to hike out from the bridge just above the box. It's about a 2 mile hike. That would obviously be more difficult if carrying a canoe. Or your third optioin is to run the box. I know you are a great paddler and may very well be able to handle it depending on the flow, it's not as bad as people make it sound. However, keep in mind even if you run the box, you still have to hike out. The hike out usually takes me 15-20 min.

You should get my contact info from steve and give me a call. Or just email me, drewboater at hotmail dot com. If you don't mind I would love to join you for a trip.
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Old 02-08-2005   #8
ski/kayak bum
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 460
expect 26 miles of class four with 3 class fives and a difficult take out with an OC. i call it this based on the continuness(sp) . it is tiring to do it in one stretch. dont swim it could be hypothermic. just my opinion.......good beer in durango.....

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Old 02-08-2005   #9
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 27
Thank you to all who responded.

I appreciate your help. I am still looking for a good evaluation of the river at low water levels. thanks again.
Chris Kelly

Drew, I messaged you.
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Old 02-08-2005   #10
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 59
I'm not sure what other details you are looking for. Basically you should be able to paddle miles of class IV and be on your toes for a portage in a couple of spots if you are not comfortable in class IV+/V. Have your wife meet you at Needleton, it is a nice half way spot and good place to camp. Let me know if need more detail on anything. I love this river!

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