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Old 02-16-2015   #1
gws, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 4
Deso/Gray through Cataract

Hey all, my buddy has cancelled. I have a permit to put in at Sand Wash on 4-14 and be at Mineral Bottoms by the 27th. My permit is for 2 rafts and 2 people. Shuttling is being worked out between Vernal and Moab. Problem is everyone I know is saying don't go through cataract alone, being I have never done this stretch before. Thought about hanging around upriver for someone to show and shoot together ( the drops ). Anyone have interest or thoughts? For some reason I have been unable to respond to private messages so, just call me. Thanks, Don at 970-989-0152 in Glenwood.

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Old 02-16-2015   #2
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 102
There are commercial outfits running the rapids every day in Cat. Big Drop 1 is class III with some big waves, no big deal to run this one solo.

Big Drop 2 you can scout easily and it is pretty obvious, but this could be a good spot to wait for someone to run with. A lot of commercial outfits still scout 2 & 3 every time. There are some almost guaranteed to flip features in it depending on volume of course. If you end up having to go solo make sure you get up high enough to spot "The Claw" aka Big Drop 2.5.

Big Drop 3 shouldn't give you any trouble unless it is exceptionally high or low for that time of year. High you would have to stay right, low it is pretty bony.

With all that said the other rapids in Cat that don't even have names are going to be as big or bigger than Joe Hutch, Coal Creek, Three fords on Deso. Cat may be considered mostly Class III but rest assured A LOT of the rapids are III+ IV-.

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Old 02-16-2015   #3
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,932
I have run Cat three times now at the oars and I am not sure I would run it solo. I just have a ton of respect for roadless multi-day Class III-IV runs. Weighing your own risk threshold is never an easy decision especially when the option is to run it blind and solo. The consequences of failure and being separated from your rig in Cataract are quite severe in my book as there are long sections of whitewater that impede shore movement to one side. It the feedback is coming from friends you boat with and know your ability and style than I would trust their insight over anything you find on the internet anyway.

The other thing to keep in mind is we are seeing unseasonably warm weather this season which could have a noticeable influence on the flow. It won't be in flood stage but it could plateau at higher level than normal for that time of year (guestimate).

For comparison, I love running Deso solo and have done it several times.

Most rafters are good folks that will help a fellow boater in need. That said, intentionally relying on the charity of others to reduce the potential risk of solo boating tends to fly in the face of preparedness and ethics of self-sufficiency that is encouraged in solo river rafting. As well, midweek in mid-to-late April could be relatively desolate in Cataract Canyon. That place sees larger populations of users mid-summer so its not even a guarantee you would run into people at the needed time around Spanish Bottom (and it really doesn't take long to go from there to the Big Drops).

Best of luck with the decision making. I waffle a lot in the planning stage but consider that part of the appeal and experience of solo boating.

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Old 02-16-2015   #4
mattman's Avatar
Fraser, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,046
I think thats excellent advice advice from phillip. I have run cat 4 times ranging from 5 to about 30 thousand and definately have my respect for it, the 30,000 was mid october, when it had run 8,000 for the past 2 months before my launch, never now what yah might get! Personally would not risk solo carnage at higher levels.
I do think thats an awesome trip! Want to do my own possibly in the fall. The mineral to hite shuttle can be flown, just leave a truck at the new hite boat ramp and one up the road at the airstrip, then walk to boats at mineral.
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Old 02-21-2015   #5
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 74
I ran Cat last August. Forget the flow but the flow river flow page here on the Buzz called it "Lower Runnable. I ran all the drops with no real issue but was amazed how even the small rapids even unnamed stuff played with my '14 oar rig. I felt small out there. I flipped on rapid #29. Big wave train with a massive hole on the last wave ( my only flip in 12 years). I didn't have a chance in the world. With that said the river is wide and you can avoid the meat if you scout everything. I would not run this river solo. I also suggest a motor. Loads of headwind and flat sections.
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Old 02-22-2015   #6
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Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 642
We were on at about the same time. Plenty of water and lots of fun.

If 29 is Imperial, it was prob the biggest wave/hit on the river, great fun. A few intense moments for the duckies.
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Old 02-22-2015   #7
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 102
29 is Waterhole and is definitely solid III+ and has flipped experienced guides.

Every water level will have different challenges but obviously >35,000 is what make Cat famous. Don't sleep on 10-20 range though which it will probably be when you are running, there are several rapids that are much more difficult/serious when the water is lower.

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