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Old 06-22-2006   #1
ski_kayak365's Avatar
Mountains on the river!!!, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 702
Beta on Big South-first time down

Just looking for ideas. I haven't run it before, but with flows dropping fast, what if any is a good run to compare or practice on before committing to South. I would like to run it this year at low flows, but need an idea of true levels, classes, portages.... I've talked to a lot of you guys about it..and thanks...just looking for more beta, and if I can get any other practice in.


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Old 06-22-2006   #2
Join Date: Nov 2003
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Class IV and easier in the inbetween. Four big V's, in order of Cool World, Melt Down, Double Trouble, and Slideways. A trail runs most of the length of the run. You'll be fine. Just scout when you can't see. A guide is helpful, but by no means mandatory. The difficulty is as much from the long day as it is from the action.

Kyle McCutchen
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Old 06-23-2006   #3
Charc in = charc out
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Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 475
agree with kyle .. but i think not having a guide would be stressful for most first time groups. couple other things to just keep in mind:

1. what's commonly called "weird creek" has a super manky POS rapid that's pretty much the shittiest thing on the whole run, esp at low water. easy walk if you don't want to run it.

2. starter fluid is worth running 2 or 3 times. just do it, you'll thank yourself at dinner.

3. if the wood is still in prime time, don't mess that up (walk on right)

4. pin cushion will f#ck you if you zoo it, & it's got a thin line at low flow. run it with an aggressive ferry angle outta the last possible eddy on the right, & grind hi-left on the center rock, but figure out where the FU rocks in the lead-in are first cuz they will mess you up.

5. mosquitoes

apart from that, it's just regular river running. walk whatever you don't like but don't over-exert yourself on scouts/portages cuz it's a long day. don't fester too long at double trouble & get cold. it always gets cloudy. bring food that's easy to get at in your vest pocket & snack all day.

given that flows are dropping quick, you best just get on it & consider the in-betweener stuff your "practice". it would be a shame to let it slip another year since it's in yr back yard.

or couple options:

1. just head to the poudre & run a couple hotlaps on upper thru lower narrows. if yr comfortable, then hit the BS.

2. find a crew to run the just bottom half of the BS. paddle across peterson(?) lake & drop down the woods to the flatwater above nitrogen narcosis. this is a common low water thing to avoid some mank upstream, but you miss the most beautiful parts of the run & the best bedrock features. but it's a good gage for you. if you like the bottom half on sat., then do the whole thing on sun.

have fun, report back afterward.
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Old 06-23-2006   #4
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
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good beta; I agree with it all. TG, thanks for spending the time to write that up so thouroughly. Any solid boater will be fine in there as long as they are in decent shape and ready to scout/ portage. The in between stuff is all pretty straight forward.

Portaging the log in Prime Time cannot be over-emphasized.

All the other wood is easy to spot unless it has shifted, which is always possible, but not so likely with decreasing flows.

The last 10 minutes or so of the run are a portage. Get out while the trail is still down at river level. Just as the creek really gets going again, the wood really tends to pile up.

Enjoy, Dave
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Old 06-23-2006   #5
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Mountains on the river!!!, Idaho
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Alright, looks good, thanks for the beta and for taking the time to write it up.

Kyle- Donnie wants to run it in mid July, his first time down as well. We may try to get a group then. I'll let you know.
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Old 06-23-2006   #6
oh yeah
Join Date: Oct 2003
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i first fired up the big south last summer with Todd and the RL crew. before going up there i spent many days in the golden play park working on my roll and hole punching abilities. somedays i would paddle the park from top to bottom three times! this also helped prime my shoulder for the portages.
thanks for keeping an eye on me todd. let me know if you make it to golden this summer; i can show you the lines in the park.

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Old 06-23-2006   #7
Charc in = charc out
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Seattle, Washington
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Posts: 475
SK365, i would tell your friend to not wait til mid-july. i'm worried about having enough water for my visit over the 4th. maybe the FC crew (francois, force, JJh, etc) could weigh in, but i think you'll likely miss it if you drag your feet .. & don't equate low water with "better for first time". more water is always better in that run ..

DF & Dan, hope you guys are having a great summer .. maybe we'll cross paths while i'm out there .. although Dan, I doubt i'll make it to golden on my short visit
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Old 06-23-2006   #8
Golden, Colorado
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My first time down, I thought "Damn, I should have come in here years ago." It's really managable with all the drops easily scoutable/portagable. Like TG said, if you like the narrows, you be fine in BS. A good way to do it the first time is to drop a car at Peterson Lake, run the first half Saturday, leave your boats down by the river and hike a mile up to the car to camp, then hike back down to finish the run Sunday. Each half section is a world class run in itself. You'll then have all day to scout and enjoy the place rather than rushing through. You'll be more inclined to run the big ones when you're rested and relaxed.
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Old 06-23-2006   #9
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 157
Lots of good beta above. I hope that it lasts until Mid-July but doubt it.
Another good alternative for a fun run when the water gets low (more is better, especially for all the inbetween IV) But do the lower half with a Spencers connection.

A guide really helps, because this a long run with lots of wood. It can save you hours knowing how to sneak through the wood piles properly. So when going unguided plan on 7 hours or more for the entire thing.

Cause when you know it, you can blaze the bottom half in a little over an hour, and that is how you get back to work by 1:00. :P :P
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Old 06-23-2006   #10
KVBA TV8 Vail weatherman/Colorado Kayaker, Colorado
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The Big South. Man do I love that run. We are headed up Monday or Tuesday if anyone is around and wants to join us. More then likely put on about noon as we are leaving here in the a.m and it takes 3 plus hours to get to the put in. Wish I could help with the log but have to work this weekend. Good on you Craw and good luck snatching it out of there. Cutch, you around next week? want to meet us?


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