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Old 10-12-2008   #1
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
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RRFW Riverwire – Pearce Ferry Rapid Update

RRFW Riverwire – Pearce Ferry Rapid Update
October 12, 2008

River Runners for Wilderness continues to keep our readers apprised of the important changes taking place under what was Lake Mead as the reservoir contracts and changes through years of extended drought. The new Pearce Ferry Rapid is a class 4-rated rapid (on 1-6 scale) that developed over the last two years approximately one mile north of Pearce Ferry at river mile 280.8, where the river flows over a saddle between hills and then straight into a hillside consisting of consolidated gravels.

A riffle at the top of the rapid has formed a small pour-over along each bank of the river, with a tongue in the middle of the riffle going into small hydraulic waves. The Pearce Ferry Rapid is positioned just below this riffle. The majority of the river passes left of a rock outcrop and makes a sharp ninety degree turn as the full force of the Colorado slams into a rocky hillside.

A large outcrop of cemented rocks sits in the middle right of the rapid, dividing the river channel. On the left of the outcrop is a tongue dropping into a small reverse wave, indicative of a submerged rock. This wave is a new development since February of this year.

Once past this submerged rock, the rapid has a sharp reverse-current hydraulic, and a mild eddy on the far left side of the reverse, which appears to be getting larger as it erodes the soft sediments that form the bank at this location. A strong hole has formed on the far left side of the river channel along the left bank at the foot of the rapid. On the right of the outcrop, a fast channel with a sharp but run-able drop has developed.

Photos of the rapid taken October 8, 2008, are online at the River Runners for Wilderness Gallery here: http://www.rrfw.org/gallery/

This rapid poses a threat to river travel, as a boat could wrap on the mid-stream outcrop. Night floating through this area is NOT recommended. Scouting on river left is highly advisable. River runners should use caution near the edge at the scout location at the top of the bluff on river left. Lifejackets should be worn by all river travelers running this rapid. This rapid poses another risk in that the last rapid, upstream at Gneiss Canyon, is forty-four miles above Pearce Ferry Rapid. River runners should not be lulled into thinking the last rapid has been run once they pass Separation Canyon at river mile 240.

The geologic term for this type of rapid is called a Nick Point. Here, harder bedrock material forms a waterfall which prevents further down-cutting upstream of the waterfall. The Pearce Ferry nick point continues to change. River runners can expect nick points to form both above and below this point.

While a small area is available for camping just above this rapid on river left, a much larger camp is at the foot of the rapid, also on river left.

A synopsis of this rapid with photos from the last five years is found at:
http://www.durangobill.com/GCTourSuperimposition.html

A video of this rapid from September can be found at this You Tube link:
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Old 11-29-2008   #2
 
oarbender's Avatar
 
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tom, just got of GC, as of nov 19th 2008. this rapid is no joke, and a complete eye opener. IMO, it is one of the top five TECHY rapids of the trip. the flat water above leads to lazy, hey "we just did it, attitude", and should be thought about for sure. we had flows from 6500-12500, and never saw 12500 during travel time. at flows near 6500, do not go right, as there is a 4-5 foot poor over and large chance of flip. the eddy below is safe, smooth, and expansive, river left has a beach better than a powerful golfer could clear.

thanksk for all the updates, and keep em coming.

OB~
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Old 11-29-2008   #3
 
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Flagstaff, Arizona
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Photos?

Hey OB, did you all get any good photos? Thanks for posting, yours, tom

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Originally Posted by oarbender View Post
tom, just got of GC, as of nov 19th 2008. this rapid is no joke, and a complete eye opener. IMO, it is one of the top five TECHY rapids of the trip. the flat water above leads to lazy, hey "we just did it, attitude", and should be thought about for sure. we had flows from 6500-12500, and never saw 12500 during travel time. at flows near 6500, do not go right, as there is a 4-5 foot poor over and large chance of flip. the eddy below is safe, smooth, and expansive, river left has a beach better than a powerful golfer could clear.

thanksk for all the updates, and keep em coming.

OB~
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Old 11-30-2008   #4
 
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a group member did get some video, and I belive ar least one member did get a still shot. it will be posted here as soon as I recieve a link.

OB~
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Old 12-01-2008   #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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gettin bigger

I've been running Diamond Down a lot in the past few years, and Pearce is definitely continuing grow and grow. Last run was in early Nov. and it was as big as I've seen it yet. I should have some video up soon as well.

I am curious to find out how this is going to affect general operations down there. Are jetboats going to be able to uprun next year? Are they going to put the proposed road in? There is even much talk around the Flagstaff bars and campfires about blowing it up, which I find very hard to believe.

Anybody know what is happening down there?

Also, it sounds like the iceberg wave is going to come back as the lake drops. This is a great wave which could potentially turn into another significant rapid. Here is some footage of the wave from last summer.

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Old 12-01-2008   #6
 
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
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It's gonna be interesting for sure. In talking to the guys at Canyon Jetboat; Will, Trevor and Don... before he passed, they're just as unsure as everyone else about what's going to happen to the rapid. It changed a lot this year. They can still uprun, but it's getting more and more difficult. A road there would be nice, but it would be such a disgusting mess when it rains, and with the fluctuations. At low water, the takeout would suck unless they put in a cement pad or something. I think I still have that silt caked to a pair of sandals from a trip in August. I guess we'll see.
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Old 01-06-2009   #7
 
San Jose, CA, California
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I was there in august this year and watched a small motor boat barely make an up run of the rapid, during our scout.

It caught us off guard because we did not hear the rapid echoing off the canyon walls (like we did with all the other rapids in the canyon) because we were out of the canyon at that point. On the bright side there is massive lake right below the it.
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Old 01-07-2009   #8
 
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Great shots! Thanks for posting! There are updated photos of thge rapid at www.rrf.org in the gallery section. Yours, tom

Quote:
Originally Posted by buckmanriver View Post


I was there in august this year and watched a small motor boat barely make an up run of the rapid, during our scout.

It caught us off guard because we did not hear the rapid echoing off the canyon walls (like we did with all the other rapids in the canyon) because we were out of the canyon at that point. On the bright side there is massive lake right below the it.
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Old 01-07-2009   #9
 
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Flagstaff, Arizona
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Great shots! Thanks for posting! There are updated photos of thge rapid at www.rrfw.org in the gallery section. Yours, tom

Quote:
Originally Posted by buckmanriver View Post


I was there in august this year and watched a small motor boat barely make an up run of the rapid, during our scout.

It caught us off guard because we did not hear the rapid echoing off the canyon walls (like we did with all the other rapids in the canyon) because we were out of the canyon at that point. On the bright side there is massive lake right below the it.
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