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Old 05-06-2010   #1
River Malt's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 124
Deso-Grays must do list

I am heading down Deso-Grays with a group on May 21 and i have never run it before. Is there any advice that you can give me so that we have a great time?

Side hikes, must have equipment/toys, etc? Let me know.
Thanks and happy boating!!

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Old 05-06-2010   #2
prescott, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 276
100% DEET

the bugs (skeeters and no-seeums) can be bad!

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Old 05-06-2010   #3
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
Lots of DEET. Bug head nets, and bug jackets if you've got them. A portable screen room if you have room on a raft to haul it.
Hikes - up Rock Creek to rock art. Also good rock art near river at Flat Canyon. Lots of good hikes in many of the canyons.
Scout Joe Hutch rapid. Get an early start on the river each day to avoid the sometimes wicked up canyon afternoon winds.
We had 7 rafts & cats on Deso last week, and carried all our drinking water. You can filter water from Rock Creek. don't try to filter from the river ..... too silty.
Wonderful trip. Enjoy. Just don't let the skeeters at Sand Wash carry you away.
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Old 05-06-2010   #4
DeeGardiner's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 83
Ditto on the bug juice. DEET works best. A little goes a long ways and lasts quite a while. For your skin only.

BioUD (available at WalMart) works pretty well too. We spray this on our clothes to stop the mosquitoes from biting through your shirt, etc.

We also set up a Thermacell chemical repellent near the port-a-potty each morning and near the kitchen while preparing dinner. I was surprised how well it worked (unless it was windy).

Screen room is great for the first night or two. We also took an electric bug zapper (looks like a mini tennis racket) - great for clearing bugs out of the tent and a fun toy for the kids.

Shade for the raft - such as an umbrella. Wide rim hat and plenty of sunscreen.

Scout "Joe Hutch Canyon" rapid - not the other Joe Hutch (can't remember the full name). JHC can be huge - and very fun! But it can flip boats too.

I would advise against camping at the put-in. The bugs are the worst there. They really thin out once you enter the canyon - usually about mid-day on day two.

Great trip. Lots of nice camps. Fun rapids. Nice desert scenery.
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Old 05-07-2010   #5
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
Joe Hutch Canyon rapid is the biggie. Joe Hutch Creek rapid is right before it. You will see the boats pulled over on river right for the scout. I would suggest pulling over early and taking the longer walk to the scout instead of scouting from the eddy just above the rapid. This gives you more room to line up for the left hand run if that's what you choose to do. those big waves can and will flip 16 ft. rafts if you aren't careful. Seen it happen.
Reserve one of the screen cabins at Sand Wash. This will help you survive the rigging process.
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Old 05-07-2010   #6
Moon's Avatar
Silt, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 193
Rock Creek Ranch is a great place to look around, as is McPherson Ranch. RiverMaps is a good reference for hikes and places to find indian graffiti. Try to find the Dennis Julien inscription if you can, its geting pretty faint. (you will need a Ute permit) Coal Creek is also a good place for a quick look around, we usually end up camping there for the last night. We launch this Mon. the 10th. Predicted highs in the 50s lows in the 30s, so dosent look like bugs will be an issue As noted scout Joe Hutch Canyon rapid.
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Old 05-07-2010   #7
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durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 49
FYI, my company River Sombrero makes a bimini shade top and frame mount kit for rafts. The advantages vs an umbrella are more shade, stable in wind, quick stowing for rapids, and easy frame mounting (totally removable). Enjoy your trip!

Mountain Buzz Sponsor
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Old 05-07-2010   #8
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 166
Dont worry about the skeeters, your going at the perfect time, before they get real bad. Couple weeks later, and they become a huge problem.

Rapids are wide open for the most part and can be navigated without much trouble by novices in inflatable kayaks, duckies, etc... Joe Hutch may deserve some additional respect; scout. I have never seen it.

There are some pesky bears in there, so take appropriate precautions.

When I have run in late may before, we have seen quite a lot of afternoon rain and lightning; so definitely want to be ready for that.

Agree with above hikes; campsites are great.
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Old 05-07-2010   #9
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 61
We launch a little later on the 29th.

When are people expecting the bugs to get bad? From looking at the hydrograph it looks like the flows peaked in late April and have been falling ever since. Doesn't that mean that the bugs will be hatching soon?

Anyone ever heard of the Space Cube? I did a trip with a guy who's son had found this cube shaped rock in lower section of the run (Gray Canyon??). He said it was covered in petroglyph up some drainage. We looked for it and never found anything. Anyone stumble across it??
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Old 05-07-2010   #10
Summit County, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 153
Yes, I think you are referring to the boulders with petros at the Price River drainage on river right. It's just a few miles up-river from the takeout. Be sure to hike around because there are quite a few that can easily be missed if you're not looking for them.

Another cool place to stop is river left at Chandler Creek. Pull over above the mouth of the creek and the rapid. Hike up the creek and on your left you'll see an old fireplace with chimney. There are also some petros scattered around this area. This creek is a great place to rinse off, if it's running, however we've never filtered drinking water from this creek; only Rock Creek.

Someone may have already mentioned, but there is a big panel on river-right in the first few days of the trip. This area was badly burned two years ago due to a plane that was flying too low in the canyon and crashed here, causing everything to burn. It's sad, but the petros here are awesome and worth stopping for.

Near Gold Hole, if you pull over river-left and hike up to the overhang, there is an old wooden boat that's kind of cool to take a look at.

Above Rock Creek Ranch on river left is the moonshiner's cabin. This is worth stopping for. Cool little hike up to the cabin that's built into the side of the hill. Lots of old relics, and if you hike up above the cabin there is another (very small) spring coming down from above. Great place to cool off, if needed, but watch out for poison ivy. Great views of the river and canyon from the cabin.

Another place to stop is towards the end, at one of the last rapids. I think there was going to be a dam built here, but thankfully it never happened. There are some old buildings that served as bunk houses on river-left that you might want to check out.

A note about bears. My husband has done this trip three times and I've done it twice. The first year we had no problems and didn't see any bears. The second year we saw a lot of scat on the hike up to the petros at Rock Creek, but never saw a bear. Last year while my husband was exploring the buildings at Rock Creek ranch, he encountered a bear that chased him off down-river. He said it was very obvious that the bear was living at Rock Creek Ranch due to the amount of scat all around everywhere. The bear would charge him and then stop about arm's length away. This went on until my husband had backed away from Rock Creek Ranch about half a mile down-river. Then the bear left him and our dog alone. He took pictures during the entire encounter.

You might think about getting the book Desolation and Gray Canyons River Guide by Thomas G. Rampton. Amazon will have it. This book mentions everything I mentioned above and in the previous posts. We love it. There may be another guide book out there that is better that we have yet to find, but this one has served us well over the years.

Finally, Joe Hutch is worthy of a scout. It had washed about a month before we did our trip two years ago. Right before we were pulling over to scout, something under the flat, still water pierced our boat and ripped a little over a 6' (yes, that's SIX FEET) tear down the bottom of one of the tubes. Luckily, we were able to patch it using some thread to sew it up, then glue and part of a Paco pad as the patch. Just be aware that there are sharp rocks and maybe some debris lurking under the water in and around the rapid. If the water is high enough you can sneak right and miss the action, but if not you just hit it head-on and hard. It's the most fun ride of the entire trip.

We are doing this trip the last week of August so we can bring our pup. Deso/Grays is an amazing trip that we do every year. We even got engaged at Rock Creek two years ago - it's a magical place. Enjoy your trip!

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