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Old 04-21-2005   #1
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 207
Upper A Questions

I plan on runnning this in late May and have a few questions.

1. If just the class V rapids are scouted, what's the average time needed to paddle this (taking out before the box)?

2. I'd like to run this in one day, but am wondering if it's possible to catch the train later in the day to get out of there. The train heads back to Durango correct? So I'm assuming two cars are needed so the return trip from Durango to Silverton can be made.

3. How tough is the Rockwood box? I'd like to run that part so we can just shuttle car to car w/out the train, but it seems a bit intimidating especially given the fact that there is a huge sieve at the end. How many V's in there and are they portagable if needed?

4. If you run the box, how long is the shuttle (mile and timewise)?



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Old 04-21-2005   #2
cosurfgod's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 384
1. If you are boating it in late May this year it will be freakin' huge. It will be very close to the peak and full on. I would not attempt it if you are not a solid V boater. If you are a V boater I would guess it would take around 5 hours if you don't have any problems. People have done it in 3 and timing is hard to judge. I would give yourself a full day but you shouldn't need it.

2. I think the last train is at Needleton at 5:30pm but I am not sure. Someone else might know. You can catch the train at anytime and they will pick you up but you will have to pay full price for the ride. It think it is pretty pricey. I would suggest using the train as an emergency plan only.

3. I have never run the box at peak flows but I hear it gnarly in there. I can say no matter what there is no portaging and the entire box is V. You will be stoked if there is an eddy. You can take out at tacoma and just hike out to Rockwood (maybe an hour max) and get your car. This is the way I would do it at high water.

4. If you run the box you just cut into the hike and maybe save 30 minutes.

If anyone wants to chime in on the upper at peak flows they would have a better idea. I have never run it a peak and this year will be huge.

Hope this helps

Creek Boaters Like Tight Boxes
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Old 04-21-2005   #3
deepstroke's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 505
I've only run from the confluence of Lime creek to the box takeout at around 2300, so my experience is rather limited, but I can say this- DRESS WARM! The water is probably no colder than most other Colorado runs, but it is constantly splashing in your face, draining your heat. A skullcap would be a wise choice. As far as the box is concerned, we only scouted [some portaged] the drop right above the takeout, but this year, late May, it will be a whole 'nother river.
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Old 04-21-2005   #4
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
I've run the Upper at 4.5' (large) and 5.5' (freaking huge), and I would say that you should plan on a full day with probable portages at No Name and the second half of Broken Bridge (you can eddy hop down the right for awhile until you get to a river-wide monster) - all the other big ones have clean lines throughout the higher flows, but bring your A Game.

Over 5', the "busy water" from No Name down to Broken Bridge and from BB down to Tacoma is solid, no-let-up IVish big water where you can't see what you're dropping into until you're at the peak of each wave. Overall, unbelieveable fun. But bring a strong posse; because if you swim, you're going to need help fast- the water is deadly cold and moving at 10-15 mph.

I also recieved the biggest whitewater beating of my life at 10 Mile at 5.5'; which wasn't necessary because there is a channel that opens up at those high levels. I distinctly remember hearing boulders rolling down the riverbed underwater on that trip. Spooky.

Skip the Rockwood box at high water if it's your first trip- you're better off knowing the lines before you get in there. Even if you've been in there, I wouldn't recommend doing the Box at the end of a 1-day. Unless you're 'Laird Hamilton' fit, you're going to be tired as shit at the end of 24 miles and the Box is extremely unforgiving of tired swimmers.
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Old 04-21-2005   #5
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 147
Do it overnight. The train will pack in campgear to needleton and the you can take out at tacoma and load your boats to lighten the hike. Cargo is $15 to 20 for a riddiculous amount of weight and it works r/t. Someone needs to be at needleton for gear drop off- there are usually commercial trip that have someone there. Give them beer.

Or, if you don't want to do it 2 day you can still have the train take your boats to Dgo for the same price of a full load, but you don't have to carry to haviland lake.

Passenger price for the train is ~$60.

Rockwood around peak will be a series of linked recoveries leading to a series of unfourtunate events. Skip the unfourtunate events, but I think it is a rare time where you get short of breath just paddling, even if you never flip.

Warnings: Stay off the tracks. It is not an acceptable way out from tacoma. The train will bust you and they have threatened to cut off cargo transport to river runners if this continues to happen.
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Old 04-21-2005   #6
Caspian's Avatar
Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 882
So then how do you get out if you don't run the Box and can't legally hike out on the tracks? Are you forced to buy a full-price ticket to get from Tacoma to Durgano?
Join up, suckas.

"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid."
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Old 04-21-2005   #7
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 30
Best of Colorado!!

Upper Animas at the end of May/early June is arguably the BEST run in Colorado if not just about any where. The scenery is majestic, the isolation soothing and the whitewater DAMN good!!

A few folks and myself ran it June 5th last year and if I remember correctly it was around 1800 cfs at Silverton and around 2900 cfs at Tacoma. It was big, pushy, cold, full of consequences and FUN!!! It is pretty much non-stop IV-IV+ with 3 exceptions. Garfield (V) is not overly difficult but beware the hole at the top-river right. Garfield is long and the swim would be even longer. This is one of the longest rapids I've ever seen, it just doesn't quit! No Name (V) can be run cleanly if scouted and lines are memorized before entering. I felt like Broken Bridge (V) was the most difficult at this level. We almost got hit by the train while scouting so stay alert... Scouting from the tracks on it looked like river right was the best option all the way....WRONG!! There is a hole about 3/4's of the way down that grabbed me and almost didn't turn loose. After about 30 seconds or so I worked my way out but was dog tired! The right line is a little difficult/blind to scout from the tracks, keep this in mind and don't be fooled. From here to Tacoma is a boaters dream.... Action/reaction, wave trains that end in holes and holes that end in other holes!!! Rockwood Box- What can one say that hasn't already been said about Rockwood Box? Mandatory Thrashing washes out at this level but it is full on (V) after this and there are no breaks. KNOW WHERE TO TAKE OUT!!!

I'm not saying this to warn anybody off... The Animas is what kayaking is all about!! Just be prepared. As the other posts reference the Animas is unforgiving due to water temp., distance from any highway and length of run. As always know what you are getting into, paddle with a group you have confidence and make good decisions!

In addition to the adrenaline and excitement STOP to enjoy the creation that is the Animas River and the San Juan Mountains. If there is a more beautiful place in the world I haven't seen it!!!

Be safe/have fun!!

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Old 04-21-2005   #8
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 147
Legally hiking out from tacoma is done bycrossing the bridge to the care takers place and going upstream about half a mile and shooting west up the drainage. At the top of the drainage you reach the mesquito capital of the san juans. The trail gets obscure here, but tend left and along and into the trees. This brings you to a road and pipeline, take this NW to the campground/ parking lot at haviland lake.

Again, Hiking the tracks out is not legal and they will bust balls for doing it. Plus, There are numerous places above the rockwood box on the tracks that are NOT wide enough for a train and a person. Option B and C suck.

The hike is not too bad, especially w/o a boat on your head. Boats can usually be added to another groups cargo for the price of a few beers and help loading back at the train station in Dgo.

Looking forward to everyone coming down. I am working the flagstone Patio and horseshoe Pits now so there shoud be some good hang time down here. Anyone have a kegerator?

bhodizypha- Good word about the box after an already long day. Do the overnighter so if your balls are big (and warm) enough, you have the juice for the meat!

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Old 04-22-2005   #9
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
so yeah, i agree with most things people have said. 1. it will be huge in late may this year. 2. the run and especially the box will be scary when its huge. not the best time for your first time. 3. the train with the boxcar stops at 3:50 and you need to tell them ahead of time. 4. the hike out from tacoma is very hard to follow and full of mossies. when you get to a swamp, cross the swamp at the upstream end of it and you will more or less end up at haviland lake. 5. people hike the tracks all the time but is illegal. 6. i have posted some info at 7. i would recommend late june or early july this year for first timers. 8. i lead guided trips raft and kayak on the upper. not for most in this forum but you never know. sorry if i am being too comercial, but as someone said - if there is a better place to paddle i have not seen it.

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Old 04-22-2005   #10
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 58
It sounds like a consensus that it will be huge at the end of May. What about mid-may, obviously it depends on how quickly it gets warm -- but any guesses? Thanks.


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