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Old 06-12-2016   #1
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 102
Weekday Ark partners

I'm heading down to Canon City to boat the Ark for my first time with a buddy on Tuesday and will probably run the Gorge or Browns. After that I plan on sticking around Wednesday and Thursday as well, and getting in as many runs as I can (and preferably hit different runs)

Other then my one buddy I don't know anyone that can get out in the middle of the week to boat. Can I find people willing to paddle to fill up my 14ft raft and help with shuttle by just showing up at the put in for Numbers, Browns, Royal Gorge, etc? Or is there some sort of "Guide Campground" where I could recruit some paddlers that have the day off work?

Lastly, should I bring my frame and oars or just stick with paddles? It looks like all of the commercial trips run mostly paddle boats and that sounds more fun to me, and would be a lot easier logistics wise (don't have a trailer)

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Old 06-12-2016   #2
mattman's Avatar
Fraser, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,046
Hey Chris, just a heads up, the Gorge is running 3700 right now, which is pretty big and fast, especially for your first time down. Granted, many things flush out a bit, but the eddies mostly go away, and it is VERY fast. Some things like boat eater hole get really big. State parks recommends not running commercially above 3200, for a reference point.

Browns might be a good alternative, even running some part of big horn, you can scout most of it from the road, so you know what yer getting into. Three rocks gets nasty at high flows.
Have fun down there, be safe!

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Old 06-12-2016   #3
mattman's Avatar
Fraser, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
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My personal preference when I used to guide the Ark, was an oar rig with some paddle assist, I like the control, plus some extra power at high water. A high sider or two is also nice, I wanted the extra weight as well. You get a little extra stiffness from a frame, but still plenty of guides taking paddle boats down at high flows. Filling a paddle boat does a better job of making an outfitter money, so that was usually what we ran commercially.
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Old 06-12-2016   #4
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 102
Cool and how about picking up paddlers for any of these stretches.

I have a (different) buddy that lived down there and talked about some sort of guide camping area that sounds like a good spot to find a solid crew, but I have no idea where said campground is!
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Old 06-12-2016   #5
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 728
I prefer to run a paddle boat in high water. Speed and power make up for oar control, and then some. Paddle assisted oar rig helps, but 2-3 people weigh more than a frame and provide way more speed. But remember a capable driver and some good paddlers are mandatory.

Your luck in picking up extras will be hit or miss unless you can find that special guide camp.

High flow levels are holding and if you have multiple days, take a couple runs down big bend, salida east, rincon, vallie bridge, etc and you'll have a chance to meet some others that may also want to go to Browns the next day.
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Old 06-12-2016   #6
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 102
Thanks for the responses guys!

Based on what I'm reading about high water and finding out my buddy has less experience than I thought,I may steer clear of the Royal Gorge and Numbers.

However I really want to run both of these stretches, specifically because the water is high. Can anyone make any comparisons to Cataract Canyon and/or Westwater. Have run those many times at every different level. I know the Ark is steeper and lower volume, but just thought I would ask.
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Old 06-13-2016   #7
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Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 884
Very different flavor of river. Westy and Cat are both pool drop unless you have run them real high. I would take a swim in Cat at anything under 30k (aside from niagra and the gut) over a swim in the gorge at any level. Gorge and numbers are pretty continuous at these levels. Westy and Cat are both set up and go for the most part and the gorge and numbers both have multiple move rapids that happen in real quick succession.

I'd say run Browns on day one, get a couple laps in. Go to stone bridge instead of heckla junction and run seidels. If you are comfy with that, run Pinnacle rock to Parkdale (have a look at three rocks on the drive). If you thought that was pretty smooth and not real challenging keep floating into the gorge. If Pinnacle was challenging, go lap it again, its fun as shit at these flows. If you do keep floating and the gorge goes smooth think about hitting the numbers on the last day. No shame in lapping browns and pinnacle, they are both a blast at current flows and the shuttles are easy. The gorge is definitely a solid step up from those two.
zach baird
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Old 06-13-2016   #8
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
I agree with what Zach said, except I would recommend you run those two in reverse. Pinnacle to Parkdale is roadside and I think just a tiny bit easier than Browns (except one rapid, Three Rocks).

The only large guide camps that I can think of right now are River Runners down at Little Cambodia and Performance Tours in the fenced in area on their lot.... I think Independent Whitewater has a handful of guides camping riverside near their building too... good luck.

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