Originally Posted by lhowemt
I just boated with some new friends this past weekend, and they told me that a fall trip on Deso is like a lake. she described it to me as "you know where they show rapids, that's where the only current is". We have a Labor Day permit, and were really looking forward to a desert trip, but don't want it to be like being on the lower Snake where it is row, row, row, row. I know the first 20 miles or so is a push, almost at any level, but how's it in early Sep? We're not looking for big whitewater (it's a dog trip which means III or less), but don't want to be miserable and have to work the entire 7 days.
Hi lhowemt -
My late wife and I used to run over or near Labor Day frequently, from early 90's to '03. We always thought it was the best time to go...no (or few) bugs, reduced crowds, cool nights, usually dry weather, more sandy camping.
As far as it being a "lake", I won't lie. The first 26 miles are a very stiff pull, especially if it's breezy.
Once the moving water starts - around Jack Creek or a little past - it moves pretty well until after Three Fords, then gets a bit lakey up until Rabbit. The row out - last 12 miles or so - is also a bit lakey.
I haven't done the Lower Snake. so I won't compare. But the rapids are generally II - II+, splashy and moderately technical (rocky), and the camping in the moving stretches is great.
In my view, the key is to leave yourself enough time. We never did it in less than 6 days, sometimes 8 - you can do it in 5, but it'll be a workout. Four days is masochistic.
Get on the water early on the first, second and last days, pull over and take a breather if you get wind-throttled, and don't fight it - negotiate with it. I've seen screaming and despair and heartbreak from other parties in big winds out there, and there's no need. Yes, it's some work....the second day and the last day are usually the most flat water rowing, but you can manage 4mph pretty easy in the moving stretches the rest of the time. Set up a decent camping/mileage plan, try to stay on it or ahead of it, and have a good Plan B. Plan to make your miles early in the day.
Having said all that, in the interests of full disclosure, my trip in Sept '07 was notable for one afternoon of the strongest
upstream wind I've ever seen in 20 years of paddling, when we were between Florence Creek and Rabbit. The lake above Rabbit had 3'-4' swells. It was utterly soul crushing. We ended up making it to Rabbit and camping there, and not a breath of wind the next day for the row out. Deso can be like that.
I wouldn't presume to judge your tolerance for rowing toil - Deso below 3K is an earned privilege.
I'm jealous of your date - I may not be able to go out there again until next year. Enjoy!