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Old 09-10-2015   #1
colorado_steve's Avatar
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 284
Cataract Sept/Oct Logistics

I have a trip planning question for some of the seasoned cataract boaters:

I am wanting to plan a Sept/Oct trip. If we have a motor I would like to launch from Hittle Bottom and without a motor launching from Potash.

First question: It sounds like Dirty Devil is the preferred take out over Hite Marina... correct? The main question: How many days should we plan for if we are launching from Hittle Bottom with a motor compared to Potash without a motor? I dont really want to be super worried about covering a lot of miles everyday (side hikes and such) and depending on time frame may even throw in a layover day.

I have done some searching of the buzz but didn't really find an answer to my question. Nobody in my group has done cat, but we are all very comfortable in class 3 and 4-

Any info would be greatly appreciated!

Oh! I don't take it lightly! I've always got to know
There's an old lion a roarin' n the river down below
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Old 09-10-2015   #2
rivh2o's Avatar
p.c., confused
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 139
skip the hittle bottom launch, start at potash and use that extra time that it would take to go from hittle to potash as a layover and do six days to ditty devil take out and cover most of the flat water with the motor

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Old 09-10-2015   #3
Orange, California
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 34
I've done Cataract once, at low water. We were rowing (no motor), launched from Mineral Bottom and took 9 river days to the takeout at the Dirty Devil. Starting at Potash is 5 miles shorter so it could be done faster from there, if you want. We didn't take a layover day but did have some shorter days and went hiking almost every day. We went past the confluence on day 5 and took two days going down the rapids section. If you don't have to rush, and haven't done cataract before, two days is a good idea to allow time for scouting all the bigger rapids and hiking some of the huge talus slopes. We had a weak current all the way to the Dirty Devil, so a lot of rowing was needed but it wasn't too onerous. Finding good campsites below the rapids can be a pain, search some of the earlier threads for more info on this.
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Old 09-18-2015   #4
Fort Collins, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 7
Just ran Cat first week of Sept. (no motor). The lowest acceptable (aka, small and slightly crappy) beach we could easily access for a camp below the rapids was at Rockfall. Silt banks get high and options are very limited. Plan on motoring from there to Dirty Devil, or from the last rapid if you can't stand the peace and quiet of the canyon any longer. Beta from one of the commercials was that Slab Camp is another possibility, but I can't recall looking at it as we rowed past.

We did the trip in 6 days. Covered avg of 15 mi/day leaving the beach by 9 and rowing till close to 4-5:00. Long days, slow water, not much time available for hikes on that schedule. Covered 30 mi the day of the rapids (Spanish Bottom to Rockfall) to set up for less of a slog the last day. NavTec ran our shuttle, reliable and one of the least expensive for a single vehicle. Hope that's helpful. Enjoy your trip!
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Old 09-18-2015   #5
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 102
Personally I would consider Cat without a motor a no go unless you have at least 7 or 8 days or somehow the rain flashes the river up to 30k before you put on.

Cat is simply not a wonderful trip unless you have time to hike, relax at camp, explore, etc. You will not have that time without a motor - unless you're out there for awhile or have boaters that row like raft guides.

The boat ramp at Hite is something like a half mile away from the river (maybe more?) so you have to take out at Dirty Devil. Call Navtec for most recent ramp conditions they run every day.
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Old 09-18-2015   #6
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 37
Seven days would be ok eight would be better. Potash down recommended. Will give you plenty of time to hike an maybe have a layover. I would recommend to get on the water at least by nine at the latest, keep your oars wet an you can have a late lunch at camp. Wind will start blowing if it's going to around eleven or twelve if it's going to, make your miles early. Camp about one mile above dark canyon for last night will set you up for a easy row....start early the last day. Take out at dirty devil. Have a great trip. It's not that bad you just have to keep your oars wet upstream,work in the am relax in pm. Cheers!

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Old 09-19-2015   #7
Telluride, Colorado
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 2
Just got off a 6 day, potash to dirty devil, no motor trip. 6 days was doable but led to some longer days and the need to keep on the oars. We were still able to do some hiking at Lathrop ruins, the loop, and Doll House. If you're aiming to layover and do more hiking, I'd recommend at least 7 days without motor.

As others mentioned, good camps below the rapids are scarce. Below Gypsum, there was an okay camp at Slab. Our group passed that one to make more miles and used Sheep camp river left. Not a big camp but it set us up nicely for a shorter row and earlier takeout on the final day. I wouldn't want to be motorless on the river in heavy afternoon winds where the canyon opens up just past the bridge.

Have a great trip!

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