That dam below BV was a lot more than I expected with a pretty big drop into some churning water on the left. As I was going over it, my main thought was "is there rebar down there?" I've heard that there's a scouting easement on the right but am still not sure about that. The "boat chute" seemed more like an aereation structure and not a good ride for the bottom of my raft. I had some questions about it and got in touch with some folks that are familar with it. I was fortunate enough to have Marshal Nichols and then Andy Neinas, one of the local outfitters, provide the info below:
Andy Neinas, Echo Canyon River Expeditions:
You should definitely get the straight talk from our friends at AHRA on this one but I can tell you the land owner on the river right hand side is not pleased with the boating community and has a negative image which extends well beyond what I would consider being appropriate so BE VERY CAREFUL. I am not personally familiar with the personalities on the left hand side but trespass is trespass so avoid the left bank. I used to get permission from the old land owner on the left hand side in the early and mid nineties for reasons of training guides but possession has changed since then.
I am also sold running the left hand side for a variety of reasons at most water levels. Yes, a sign is posted at the BV ramp indicating the dam and private land issues.
The ECHO approach is to run left and not stop above or below the rapid.
I typically line up just left of center, standing on the back tube of my raft so I can see, just left of the jumbled rocks that make up the center at some levels. The water is SO SLOW on the way up to the horizon line that solid boaters should have enough time to make a decision. If people are not used to that run they should be advised that it does look ugly on the left at most levels, however, it is a great hit and I rarely see swimmers from those who hit it dead on. As you know it is a corkscrew wave breaking from left to right at 1700cfs and up, I personally would not miss it for the world and believe it to be one of the biggest drops on the river. Kayakers should be on a low brace with their left blade or just paddle through it.
Echo Canyon River Expeditions
From: Marshall Welding [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2004 9:58 AM
To: Horn, J. Andrew; Jay Kenney; Rob White
Cc: Jason Robertson; Adam Eichberg; Pat Tooley
Subject: RE: Ark River - Dam below Buena Vista
Good Morning Andy,
I am copying Rob White in our correspondence, as well as the rest of the people in the distribution. I am not up on the current situation with the property owners, it is my understanding at this point that it is private property and there is a "scouting easement" for the dam.
There is a boat chute on the right, however in the times I have run the dam, I have found the left side considerably safer and easier to run. I confess that I have not done this at lower levels, we generally run from the Numbers to Ruby when the dam comes into play, and this can be a LONG trip at lower levels.
I do believe there is a sign at the BV ball fields warning of the dam, and was just informed by a AHRA ranger that this is posted at the Numbers site too, and he said he thought that there was a sign on the river. AHRA has in the past tried to purchase the dam property from the woman that owns it, but it hasn't happened, and I believe efforts to continue have been terminated.
In short, run left, run right, but stay out of the center. The boat chute on the right was put in by the town of Buena Vista, and in MY opinion, they weren't really up on the hydrology of boat chutes, which is the reason it's not an "Ideal" passage.
Hope this helps,
Superior Quality Raft Frames and Trailers Hyside, Maravia and Vanguard dealers
10325 County Road 120 #1
Salida, CO 81201
"If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in water."
-- Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey, 1957.
Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse