We took off at Bullfrog this past Saturday morning the 24th. Again, we decided to go all the way to the marina because it was just my husband and myself, and a big 16' cat. We needed to be sure we could get our trailer to the water. Our shuttle driver, Kelly Dunham of River Express Shuttles, took some photos of the Dirty Devil takeout before we left for our trip. She confirmed that it was steep and muddy and that people had not been driving down. This helped to solidify our decision to continue on to the marina to take out.
While we were in the canyon, we ran into a group of rangers that were doing weed mitigation. We asked them about the Dirty Devil takeout. They still use it, but have inflatable tubes that they use as rollers to get their raft up the steep section. They also confirmed that no one is driving down, but carrying everything up the steep ramp. Side note: these rangers were awesome and even gave us one of their left over blocks of ice since we were continuing on for a couple of days.
We took these photos as we passed by the Dirty Devil takeout. It's very difficult to tell how steep that ramp is, but I can assure you that you will not want to drive down it. The mud at the water's edge was mostly dry, but very rutted out and could easily get super muddy again with a rain event (which we had a lot of and is still continuing right now). We would have definitely taken out here if we'd had a large group to help haul gear. If you plan on using this takeout, be prepared for a long haul and for it to take some time.
For those interested, we stopped at Hite and hiked up to the gas station/convenience store. We bought an additional three gallons of gas, just in case, as well as more ice. The lady that runs the gas station is super nice. The store is open until 4pm, but she lives behind it and said that she'd open it if someone came by and needed something. Otherwise, the gas was pay at the pump.
We spent Thursday afternoon, all of Friday, and Saturday morning on the lake. The river was flowing all the way until you hit the first big open bay. Then it was a cool mixture of chocolate milk river water and green lake water. Thursday afternoon was very pleasant on the lake. Friday was nice as well up until mid afternoon when the winds picked up. The water also got rougher from the increasing boat traffic as we got closer to the marina. Hard to believe after doing it with our engine that people have actually rowed to Bullfrog before...major props to them.
The rangers said Cat was flowing at 3800 when we hit the rapids on Wednesday. We had no problems in our 16' cat. We scouted Big Drop 2 and 3. I think we counted 30 or maybe even 31 rapids now due to the lake continuing to drop. A lot of springs are also pushing through the sediment on the banks after the rapids - pretty cool. We probably had two nice days out of eight total. It was either way overcast with a storm right at our backs or in our faces threatening to let loose at any moment. It stayed overcast almost every night, which meant that it was super hot with all of the cloud cover. Even with it being monsoon season, we thought there was an unusual amount of storms brewing.
We braved the Dollhouse hike, but waited until about 5pm to start. It was perfect, as the sun had gone down behind the cliff so we were in the shade for the hike up. When we got to the top the sun was just beginning to set so the Dollhouse was lit up like crazy. Highly recommend doing the hike this way if you're up for it.
We saw several groups of canoes on Stillwater as well as one other group of rafters (three rafts and five people). Then on Cat we saw the group of three rangers and one commercial group on a j-rig. Other than that, we had the river to ourselves.
I think that about covers everything major, but let me know if you have any other questions. Hope you all enjoy your upcoming trips!