Westwater Aug 2 Trip Report
Just back in the office this morning after a trip on the Westwater yesterday, Aug 2. I'll put some photos and video up later. We ended up being 10 people in our group so we took 2 rafts.
At the launch we hooked up with Troy, another Mountainbuzz subscriber, and his wife Trish on their cataraft so we were now a merry band of 12.
Just a side note, why would you be a ranger if you don't like or want to deal with people? I'm not saying anything more than that.
At the launch we had a commercial group out of Grand Junction launching the biggest raft I've ever seen. It's a prototype for a company that is wanting to get in to the big raft business... I have no idea how big it was but it was HUGE. So much so that we wondered if it would be able to fit down through the canyon in lower water.
My buddy Bruce was the trip leader and has been on Westwater 60+ times over the years. Flipped in Skull once, but never been in the Room of Doom. As we were getting on our way I destinctly remember him telling us all to stay out of the Room of Doom.
Water levels were at 9800cfs, we had hoped for the teens but missed it by 10 days or so. No problem, what's that saying about a day on the river being better than the best day at work?
We launched by 9:00am, weather was clear and deer flies were thick... man can those things bite. Bruce and I have been on Westwater before, but the rest hadn't so we made the stop at the old cabin for some pictures. Then through Little D and some fun rollers and stopped at the cave.
I should note here that my boat won the water fight and Troy and Trish were probably wondering what sort of people they had hooked up with.
At this point we got serious or as serious as we get, tethered the oars, got out the GoPros and reviewed all the safety 'stuff' we always go over. If Trish was being honest, she was probably a bit nervous at this point wondering about following us down Westwater. I told the 4 guys in the boat with me that we were going to go at the heart of the rapids, get wet and scream like little girls. Once again, our fearless leader Bruce said, "Don't go in the Room of Doom".
Off we go. Rapids above Skull were great. All the big rocks were covered just enough so you could go right over them and drop in to the big holes behind. We found out why they named Surprise, Surprise. As we dropped in to it my left oar came out of the stirup and we came up on to the crest sideways. Next thing I know I'm laying on top of the Cade, who is sitting behind and to my left and we are rolling out of the boat... only to be saved when John, who was next to Cade grabbed Cade by the left vest and kept us in the boat. We quickly recovered, no flip, but dang close and lots of nervous shouting and laughing followed.
Then came Skull... did I mention that Bruce had said to not go in to the Room of Doom. He was first in to Skull and I thought "Boy, he is awfully far right, I'm not going that far right", so I pulled left 3 pulls just as Bruce went zipping in to the Room of Doom. We ran through the left side behind Troy and Trish and we eddied out across from the RofD to wait and see.
Now I've seen a big raft (18') like we were on in the RofD once before that took 2 hours to get back out. So we tied off in the eddy and figured we had a bit of a wait ahead of us. I guess this is where 30 years of experience comes in... Bruce only took 4 spins in the Room of Doom and on the 5th one came out. Bumped up against the Wall of Shock and pivoted out... nicely done.
As we pulled out of the eddy to follow down stream I told Troy to be ready, we still had a couple of rapids that could be 'fun'. I must be some sort of oracle or something. When we got to Sock-It-To-Me we went right over the lip and dropped in to the hole, biggest I've seen it actually, and shot out over the wave, screaming and yelling. Troy dropped right in on the same line behind us... but we learned something about catarafts... they don't knock the wave down as much. Just like bugs on the windshield Troy and Trisha were washed right off the back of the boat.
And just like little water skimmers, they were back on the boat, and as we cheered they dropped in to Last Chance ahead of us (we had eddied out to make sure they got back on their raft) and pulled through clean.
We (by 'we' I mean everyone but me) finished the day with some cliff jumping above the Cisco take out and then had a late lunch and headed home.
This is #4 for us on Westwater this year, all the others were high water 29,000-38,000 and this one was the most fun by far. I felt like I did pretty good through all the rapids, only one or two mess ups on my lines and I only chickened out slightly when I saw Bruce go in to the Room of Doom and adjusted my line left to a little easier run.
Man I love river running. Thanks to Troy and Trish for joining on with us, once again it has been confirmed that you meet the nicest people running rivers.