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Old 05-26-2015   #1
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Laramie Canyon Trip Report

We had a big day in Laramie Canyon yesterday. This is the only write-up we had to work off of, and everything felt a half grade or so harder at our flows, which I would guess were somewhere between 1k and 1200. The main gauge hasn't reported in a few weeks, so it's tough to correlate what we had to the other reported runs, aside from guesstimates and looking at photos. We had something like 850-900 coming out of Wheatland #2, but it had been raining for the past 2 weeks and there was a lot of water in ditches, side streams, etc.

We started with 6 boaters. A barbed wire fence lurking an inch or two off the water in the first mile or so caught Kevin K at the waist for an uncomfortably long period of time. He was eventually able to push off and we got it lifted over his head, but it was a spooky entrapment.

We followed that with a swim about a mile and a half in. What the writeup describes as Class III+ warmup felt like a few pretty solid IVs. I think they should collectively be called "The Gardener." The swimmer and his compatriot decided it was a bad start to the day and that it was time to hike out. Not sure how long that took. So then we were four.

The entry whitewater backed off a bit until we reached the main canyon. The whole area is gorgeous -- a beautiful deep canyon that also isn't walled in, so you could scout and portage every notable rapid. We eddy hopped our way down, occasionally sending someone out of their boat to scout a horizon line. At lower flows a lot more could be comfortably boat-scouted, but we had a lot of rapids with horizon lines and without eddies we could hop down to in order to scout partway down.

We eventually reached the first big rapid, which had quite a bit of water in it. The line was the same as in the writeup -- boof off the center ledge -- but it had a pretty solid sticky hole and sieves on either side. We walked.

We ended up walking 3 others, all big obvious horizon lines with too much water going into seives for our tastes. They all had runnable lines, but all seemed to be pushing solid class V and were a long way from aid.

2 more swims slowed things down, though if I remember right, none of them were on the 5-6 main rapids. There was also a ton of class IV in the main canyon, which we got through with a mix of boat scouting, verbal directions from shore, and the occasional all-hands scout. A lot of the rapids were really fun, and others just pulling through a string of holes and wave trains.

Once the main canyon walls receded, the run continued to keep us on our toes. We probably had 5-6 miles of class III, which would have been a lot more fun if it wasn't walled in by willows and other trees that were growing in the riverbed. Combine that with the ever-present threat of errant barbed wire, and you get a pretty spooky stretch of river that required more shore scouting than we would have liked, since there were a lot of sections where the view downstream was busy and eddy-less. We portaged one more fence (maybe two? but I think just one) in this section.

The final couple of miles were through a weird haunted forest area, where recent floods had heaped all sorts of trees, deadfall, and debris on the upstream sides of mature trees that were all in the riverbed itself. It was class II with a bit of III here and there and pretty mellow, but it was kind of eerie boating. The recent floods had knocked out the Palmer Canyon Road, and the takeout road was almost washed out by a creek, but was accessible. We dropped takeout cars on the public land described in the writeup above and they were fine.

Given all of the rescues and shore-scouting, the run took us 10 hours 15 minutes from car to car. We had camped at the put-in and were on the water at 9 sharp, and we were happy we had the whole day to work with.

At our flows the whitewater was a solid step up from Bailey, and when combined with a long run and lurking hazards, made for an adventurous day. Solid boat-scouting skills in the IV+ to V- range were mandatory if you want to have any fun in there. But it's a great canyon and a great trip.

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Old 05-26-2015   #2
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Thanks for the write-up. Glad everyone is ok. Barb wire across the body is super sketch...

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Old 05-27-2015   #3
Laramie, Wyoming
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Very excited to hear you guys got on it! Sounds like you all had some premium flows as well. It's too bad the upper HADS gauge (LRTW4) is still in error, I ran it a few weeks ago after seeing 2.35 on the gauge and we found less water than my previous lowest run at 1.8.
The lower HADS gauge for the Laramie River Above the Cramer Ditch (LRDW4) is still functioning and is an accurate gauge for water in the canyon. Unfortunately we don't really have any reference points for this gauge how it relates to boatable flows. It looks like you guys were boating on about 5.8 on this gauge on Monday. So until we run it a few more times for frame of reference this lower gauge can at least be used to track rising or falling trends.
That sucks about the fence incident. A few weeks ago we portaged a few that had not been there on my previous runs, and a couple that I was expecting to see were absent. This situation does seem to vary quite a bit with water level. Might be time to snip a few bottom wires to improve the limbo-ability.
Nice work on probing your way through, sounds like a big day to say the least. If it stays in lets go again!
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Old 05-27-2015   #4
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Yeah, it's certainly worth doing, and it seems like with a few more runs we should be able to get a correlation on the lower gauge. A couple of additions to the trip report: per the hike-out team, it took them 3.5 hours, and I'd guess they started portaging from 1.5 miles or so into the canyon, maybe 2. And they were cliffed out twice. Also, watch for poison ivy and cactus on portages/scouts.
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Old 05-27-2015   #5
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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Thanks for posting, sounds like an adventure. This is now on my list.
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Old 06-09-2015   #6
Laramie, Wyoming
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6/8 update

Got another lap yesterday. We had 5.16 on the lowerHADS gauge (LRDW4). Flows were awesome, felt to be a highish medium of what I would presume is the boat able range. This flow seemed very similar to a run I got last year at 3.2 on the upper gauge. 5.8 must have been incredible! Nice work dudes.

The fence situation is much improved. We didn't portage or see a single fence during the whole run. Some sort of debris flow or flash flood in the farmyard gnar run out section took out a road bridge and ripped out all fences. So all in all much cleaner, but all fences signifying the public take out location are also gone. I'm sure this will change soon as the water drops.

Now let's just hope it stays up!
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Old 06-09-2015   #7
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Nice, I'll be interested to try and get a correlation on that lower gauge.
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Old 06-16-2015   #8
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Fort Collins, Colorado
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We got on the Larmie yesterday. The HADS LRDS4 gauge reading was 5.19. Caleb thought that the river looked and felt a bit higher than when he ran it last week at 5.16, but it had been raining and there were some tribs coming in so it is tough to correlate. Nothing new to report, we didn't see any barbed wire, there was one sketchy log blocking the entire left channel in the farmlands section but you can take a right channel through the willows to avoid.

Overall it was a really cool river! Great whitewater in a remote canyon, it definitely had an adventurous feel to it. At our flows everything was well padded and fluffy with some nice big holes mixed in. Still eddys to be found when you need them. Some very long continuous rapids in there. The run took us a little over 6 hours with a guide who has done it twice and two first-timers. I'd say without having a guide it would have taken us quite a bit longer and we would have done much more scouting from shore. We didn't have any problems at the takeout but it was raining hard towards the end and the road back to the put-in was slick as shit. Would recommend 4-wheel drive if it's been raining.

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