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Old 03-27-2008   #1
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Summit, Colorado
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TR-Grape Does NOT Suck

That's right. I said it. Grape Creek does not suck. In fact, I had a pretty damn good time today.

So at 9am, the gauge was reading about 180.

The road to the put-in is snowy, muddy and pretty slick in places but is navigable both ways. We got to the put-in and launched at about 12:30 and thought it looked like about 200.

It took us about an hour and a half to get through the boogy above the Tights. It was quality III/IV (starts out III, builds to IV, and then lets up again) for about 5 miles. The drops were nice and padded and you could pretty much miss all the rocks you wanted to. There was none of the manky, scrapy, dragging boat abuse that past trips have complained of. It was actually a pretty nice warm-up and reminded me of Tenmile Creek in both nature and mank-factor. There used to be a fence about a half-mile down from the put-in. It is gone.

The Tights were...tight.

The entrance drop was not nearly as sketch as I expected and went well. We both opted for hugging the inside of the bend, boofing left and punching the hole with right to left angle (Corey did have a bit of rodeo session before finishing up the hole-punching move though).

The drop after this was the only real crappy drop of the day. We scouted left from above, couldn't see the left line but thought the right line looked like it would go. It turned out to be a bit of a manky, wheel-chairy, pinning-as-a-strategy POS. But it does go. From below we looked up at the left line. It's there but it looks like a pretty thin line. You may be able to get a better view of both lines from the right side. Not sure if you can walk this on the right or not but you definitely can't walk it on the left.

There's a little good boogy and you come to a path on the left to scout. This gives a great view from above and we scouted almost all of the Tights from here.

Some boogy followed by an insignificant drop that has a log in the left channel. You want to be on the right anyways, though.

Some more boogy followed by the first vert drop of the day. This is the drop pictured in the book which I've started referring to as "Gary's Roll." Sketchy little 12 footer that lands on a rock halfway down and the pool at the bottom recircs behind the falls. There's a couple manky moves to make below the falls, too. I seriously considered running this one but ultimately we chose to walk on river right. The portage was a little difficult and involved some boat throwing/roping and some downclimbing/jumping. The walk would be much better on the left but there really aren't any eddy's there for about a quarter of a mile upstream.

There's some quality IV+/V- boogy before the next real drop. This is a sweet little set of about ledge-holes sprinkled about the river. I ran right to left at the top and then stayed left. It was boofalicious.

Right after this is the second vert drop. This is a super sketchy looking drop of about 8 feet with a rib-ripper at the bottom and a boil-line feeding into the undercut wall on the right. Walked river left with some creative boat-handling (read: pushed boats down backside of rock and hoped they stopped before the river. They did.).

Immediately below this is the third vert. It's about 6' and you have to pull out and ferry across above the left slot to get to the center slot. Center's good. Left has a rip-your-head-off rock. The ferry move is tight as you have about two strokes to get where you want to be before you're over the lip. You land and have to pull to the right of a sievey rock. Again, tougher than it looked.

A bunch more quality boogy with one more meaty drop with all the current pushing into an undercut rock at the bottom and your out of the Tights.

But don't let your guard down yet. There's another .25-.5 miles of IV+/V- boogy after the gorge-proper ends. This includes a tiny willow tunnel into a sticky hole and a blind turn into what looks like it could be a choice of three different sieves (far left goes).

Bunch more mellow read and run IIIish stuff; the fence at Temple Canyon is gone. We went all the way to the confluence and Royal Gorge take-out. You get one more good III+ and the dam drop is mildly amusing. Down here the river gets wider and braids frequently so it is shallower but we still had no scraping issues and did good time whether we were paddling or just floating. There is a fence shortly before the confluence. You can squeeze under it river left.

I can see how with 50cfs less, the whole thing would be completely miserable: top, middle, and bottom. We were fortunate enough to have flows that made it more or less padded everywhere. The Tights are high quality IV+/V- boulder garden style drops with a lot of must make moves above sieves and eddies above big drops. The whole thing took us about 6 hours with about 2-2.5 in the Tights.

If you've got good flows (>200 at launch, >250 by the Tights) Grape Creek is a high quality flooded-creek style desert gem. It's in a very scenic canyon with some awesome geology, great whitewater, and just enough pucker to keep you on your toes. I'd go back in a second.

Be safe and git'er done out there.


P.S. I'll try and get the video up in the next couple days.

"The world would be a better place if everyone kayaked."-Brad Ludden (Valhalla)
"You only get one chance to run a drop blind."-DD
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Old 03-27-2008   #2
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Thought-criminal, Colorado
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Sweet TR, makes me sad I couldn't paddle today. I'm glad Corey got in there, he's been waiting to pounce on it for a while now.

Hopefully it'll be running maybe Sunday.

I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 03-28-2008   #3
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Overseas, Colorado
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Grape creek sucks I've been running it for years. Don't come to this manky bitch I hear the put-in even gives you herpes. That drop is called Rooster Tail portage on the left. Gapers clean it and pros get schooled its weird.
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Old 03-28-2008   #4
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Mmmm....interesting. However, that's one positive report from Dirk and severely negative reports from every other person I've heard run it since CRCII. I think I'll wait.
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Old 03-28-2008   #5
The next zone, .
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I thought it was fun the last time I ran it... But that was back in 95' or 96..

There has not been a good snow pack since about then so I take this is the first sure sign that things are gonna be different this year..

Nice TR good to see you gettin out there and gettin it done!
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Old 03-28-2008   #6
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Awesome post, Count.
Didya get any pictures?

Someone get some pictures in there!
"self-aggrandizing jackass" - it says it right on the label
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Old 03-28-2008   #7
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Count, damn it, I didn't roll you bastards! Glad you had fun.

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Old 03-28-2008   #8
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Eagle, Idaho
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Thanks for the TR count! Can't wait to see that video......and REALLY wish I could have been on it too. Any thoughts on whether it will last another week or so??? Hard to say, I know, but the soonest I can do it is NEXT saturday.
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Old 03-28-2008   #9
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Golden, Colorado
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Originally Posted by eljim View Post
I hear the put-in even gives you herpes.
That's some funny shit right there.

............and Gary rolled.
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Old 03-28-2008   #10
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Summit, Colorado
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Originally Posted by JCKeck1 View Post
Mmmm....interesting. However, that's one positive report from Dirk and severely negative reports from every other person I've heard run it since CRCII. I think I'll wait.
True, but it was definitely 50-100cfs higher than everyone I've talked to who ran it and said it sucked (Gary, Paul, Josh, Dave, etc.). Totally worth it if you can catch it in the padded to juicy range (though, admittedly, that can be a bit of a crapshoot with the flow patterns in there).

From what we saw and what the graph looks like, we were guessing it would hold at similar flows through Saturday. Sunday would hold, too, unless we get the snow they're calling for. Another week would be a long shot unless we get some more snow followed by hot days. But who really knows?


"The world would be a better place if everyone kayaked."-Brad Ludden (Valhalla)
"You only get one chance to run a drop blind."-DD
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