Lost Oar Rig San Miguel - Page 5 - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-15-2016   #41
Paddling in to the Future
PhilipJFry's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
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90+ days to describe your rafting accident and recovery is a little odd.. this much drama in a relationship usually causes problems. looks like it is here too..

"Thats what" - She
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Old 09-15-2016   #42
yesimapirate's Avatar
Up shites creek, Colorado
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I don't know the OP, but perhaps there's a legit reason he's refraining from spilling the entire story on the internets. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt ....especially since he did say "bare with me".

Perhaps there's a lawsuit pending?
Perhaps insurance companies are involved?
Perhaps the perpetrator has been found and prosecuted, but details can't be shared until all restitution has been paid?

Tons of perhaps's.
F@$% 2016!!!
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Old 09-15-2016   #43
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Originally Posted by yesimapirate View Post
...I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt ....especially since he did say "bare with me".

Perhaps there's a lawsuit pending?
Perhaps insurance companies are involved?
Perhaps the perpetrator has been found and prosecuted, but details can't be shared until all restitution has been paid?

Tons of perhaps's.
Ditto. Just because there's an audience out here on the interwebs eagerly awaiting the details of this saga doesn't mean the story should be told now.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 09-18-2016   #44
Salt Lake City, Utah
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Part 1

Perhaps I should begin by telling the story in a series of installments:

Part 1:

It begins with Nuestra Señora de los Dolores. My favorite small river in the American West, along with The Salt and The Bruneau. All of which I have run several times over the last few decades. And all of which are less and less frequently raftable due to diminishing snowpack. Having watched the snowpack and run-off I became delighted in mid-May that The Dolores might be granted a spill. The folks at McPhee Dam were predicting a release over Memorial Day weekend, but due to cooler weather, it was delayed to the subsequent weekend. They promised water, 1000 cfs over the weekend to Monday. After scrutinizing all the data I determined that there was enough run-off pending that it would likely run for up to a week.

We packed up the rig for an eight-day trip (the shortest I’ve run in years) and arrived at Bradfield Bridge Sunday night, launching Monday morning. We camped at Doe Creek Canyon, planning on spending a couple of nights if flows allowed. The first night the water dropped an estimated 100 to 200 cfs ---not a good sign. The next day, parties that had just launched, informed us the dam folks intended to ramp down 200 cfs per day ---with no indications of further releases. The second night it dropped again. I seriously considered staying put and waiting for what I believed was imminent: more water. But considering the consequences of being wrong (hell, The Dolores may never run 1000 cfs again!), we decided to play it safe and work our way down to The Dove Creek ramp ---just in case. I could tell as soon as we were underway that we were probably on as little as 600 cfs. Very little water for a 14’ Sotar oar rig with a PRO Grand Canyon style frame fully provisioned –probably a thousand pounds, not counting the two of us. It’s a great rig for multi-day trips on rigorous white water ---nice low center of gravity ---huge capacity ---but it requires a little bit of liquid beneath it. We made the miles without incident.

We spent the third night at the Dove Creek ramp where we had the pleasure of making friends with several other boaters from the local area ---people keenly knowledgeable about the region, the politics of water, and highly committed to the formidable task of trying to preserve a doomed gem of a river suffering extreme duress. We all concurred there ought to be more water coming ---the math just didn’t add up. One of them knew and had the phone number of one of the three people who make the final decision on McPhee releases. He went up top and made the call. “Ramping down and no more coming.” There was a large trip upriver in the gorge near where we had camped. Some members of the party had come as far as from Vermont for this venture. They were stubborn. “Hell no. We’re camping right here until the water comes back up.” That day we worried about them. Later I would admire and envy them.

One of our new friends suggested we jump watersheds and run Norwood Canyon on the San Miguel. He had very detailed information about possible put-ins, and the last crucial takeout: Piñon Bridge, a diversion dam we’d have to negotiate, etc. He said make sure you have at least 800 cfs (we would find it flowing twice that). This gentleman impressed me and struck my as very well experienced and well informed ---and most importantly, as intrinsically cautious (an assessment I hold still). We decided to go for it. It was a long day, hitching a ride to town and then all the way to Bedrock to retrieve the truck, de-rigging, etc. By nightfall we were camped in the high country above the San Miguel. We learned later that the next day the folks at the spigot turned The Dolores up to 1200 cfs and held it for a few days. We could easily have finished our trip as planned.

It infuriates me that the people at the spigot at McPhee Dam can disseminate misinformation in the vain hope that it might garner them a few extra drops of water to the detriment of all downriver creatures, whom for all practical purposes have already lost that river. It was entirely evident from the data that they had adequate inflow to let the river run at 1000 cfs for a week straight ---without losing a drop. Why lie? Why confound an already complicated issue?

To be continued...
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Old 09-18-2016   #45
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
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great story keep it coming!
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Old 09-19-2016   #46
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Silverthorne, Colorado
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And then?
I don't think the heavy stuff is gonna come down for quite a while.
~Carl Spackler
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Old 09-19-2016   #47
Newberg, Oregon
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More! This is a good read
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Old 09-19-2016   #48
Salt Lake City, Utah
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Join Date: Jun 2016
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Part 2

Part 2

Next morning we began to scout the river, from bottom up. The bridge take-out looked sketchy, all factors considered. We found Cottonwood Campground and determined that would be our take-out, but the small ramp could be easily missed. I carefully took note of landmarks. There was a flag tied to a willow at water level. This mountain creek, The San Miguel, was now a full-sized river, and it was hauling ass. Hopefully it would drop a bit before we arrived here in four days.

We drove up the canyon, scouting from the road repeatedly ---my biggest concern: strainers. None were seen. There were no real structural rapids ---but also, there was no respite from the none-stop onslaught of continuous, essential maneuvers: bends, boulders, holes ---no mercy here ---and no rest for the weary. We opted to rig and put in at Caddis Flats. It was unseasonably hot.

We heard word of a near-fatality the day before. A passenger on a commercial trip was pulled from the river lifeless, and then remarkably revived via CPR. She was expected to make a full recovery. Cold water ---Ice cold, cascading off the ice fields above Telluride just hours before.

We rigged. And we rigged to flip. Everything was double tied down.

Just as we finished rigging, a living spruce tree, freshly uprooted, forty feet long, came ripping around the corner. It almost struck the back of the raft. I decided we’d give that thing 20 minutes lead-time to lodge somewhere, or else to move on ahead of us.

I said out-loud, “We shouldn’t be doing this”. ---An entirely feeble proclamation.

My sole companion on this journey, my girlfriend, my mate, (Swamper? No!), first mate, we’ll refer to her from now on as “The First Mate” ---she does not look happy. Its been a demanding five days. She is a young, savvy, fit, worthy outdoorsman ---with tremendous common sense. She has lots of experience in the back-country backpacking, hiking, camping, including solo. This is her second river trip. Her first river trip being the 20 miles we’d run on The Dolores in the days prior. She’s completely out of her element ---alienated. She has no sea legs. She doesn’t know ropes, knots, rigging, river rescue, etc. She’s never rowed a boat in her life. I’ve already told her: something serious takes me out on this “crick”, you abandon ship and take to shore, and walk. ---One hell of a position in which to put a loved one.

We’re not on The Dolores anymore Dorothy.

To be continued...
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Old 09-20-2016   #49
Denver, Colorado
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This is getting good
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Old 09-20-2016   #50
Jackson, Wyoming
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Nothing jump starts a relationship like creating an atmosphere of impending doom.
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