Originally Posted by semievolved
...to the question of how low is too low, we put on once at 900 and we made it through but i swore off another run at that low level. it wasn't so much the rock dodging but more the picking among several very shallow channels, most of which end in shoals or sand bars. it was tedious. the rapids themselves were fine, including quartzite. corkscrew was very interesting however and we had a couple boats get into trouble on that one. eye of the needle was a blast and the maze was very cool because you couldn't see around the rocks to know where you were going, very fun...
We launched last year at about 1,200 (night before) and dropping. By the time we hit Quartzite, it was down to about 850. Had the same experience described above. Most of the rapids are fun, but it's what is in-between that is tedious and far more work than I had hoped for. If you know where the channels are (as a few folks did that passed us a few times) it may be a little better, but still a lot of work.
Quartzite was a flipper for anything over 14' for sure. We had a 16 footer flip, my 14 footer made it through with a brief moment stuck in the slot, but bounced it through. Talked to another commercial guide, and they flipped the bigger boats too. I didn't think Corkscrew was any big deal, but I can see how it could be taken for granted after Quartzite. It pools up plenty between the two, so just don't let your guard down for Corkscrew!
I also have sworn off the salt for these water levels. I'd say 1,000cfs is the minimum I'd want to run it again at, as I think that would be just enough to get through Quartzite un-scathed and just enough to cover up a lot of the rock gardens and make it less tedious. 1,500 or more is probably ideal, but it's been 25 years prior to last year since I got to run it at those levels.