Big T: Idlywilde Dam is gone - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 03-19-2014   #1
 
Denver, Colorado
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Big T: Idlywilde Dam is gone

Idylwilde dam on the big T just downstream of drake was damaged by the floods last year and it is being removed, along with a bunch of the sediment behind the dam to use for flood repair elsewhere. This was the dam that was normally portaged on the class IV run from below the gnar to the VS park.

I haven't been up big T canyon since the floods, anyone been through there recently or have pics of the dam removal site / construction? Interested to see where it lands.

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Old 03-19-2014   #2
 
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longmont, Colorado
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Now this was a while ago. But when I drove the canyon right after it was opened I distinctly remember that where the dam was there was a sweet 20footer coming off the river right wall with a nice auto boof lip. They were in there with track hoes moving things around and I assumed they were putting the dam back and this was a temporary diversion. Has anyone been up lately? Sounds like its time for a drive up the canyon again.
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Old 03-19-2014   #3
 
Ft Collins, Colorado
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We drove up the canyon a couple weeks ago, and it's very impressive. I guess the bedrock drops (e.g. the last of the gnar drops) might be the same, but I think everything else will be virtually unrecognizable. On top of that, there's a lot of heavy equipment working in the river channel so it's still being substantial altered.

As noted, the dam is gone, and the sediment will be moving downstream. There's currently a _LOT_ of loose material - slopes stripped of vegetation, material moved as part of the restoration, etc. Much of this is going to erode into the riverbed, and it's going to be moving. It's going to be an incredible mess when the water comes up, with lots of trees, trash, debris, sediment, etc getting washed downstream. Who knows what sort of crap is going to be in the water - washed out septic systems, etc. As much as I love running the Big T, I'll probably take this year off and let it settle - even if kayaking is permitted. Also check out the takeout. The traditional pull-offs are gone.
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Old 03-19-2014   #4
 
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Drake, Colorado
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Idlywilde Dam 2014



Where the lake used to be, taken a few months ago. The silt that was behind the dam has been removed and used to fill in eroded banks at Moodie Lane (west of the dam) and Idlewilde subdivision (east of the dam).



This is looking upstream toward where the dam used to be.

I don't think the river is any more polluted than it ever was - all the remnants of septic systems and Estes Park raw sewage were swept away in the massive volume of water.

This is the bridge at Brown Trout Lane on Friday, September 13 (the bridge came through fine).

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Old 03-20-2014   #5
suigeneris
 
loveland, Colorado
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Big T

everything else will be virtually unrecognizable. On top of that, there's a lot of heavy equipment working in the river channel so it's still being substantial altered.

The Good Bad and Ugly:

Good: Big T needed a cleansing and it obviously got it. Gone are the low hanging branches, fixed logs and center stream cottonwoods. Present now is beautiful river bed reconstruction in numerous areas. Gone possibly are the characteristic river braids one got to choose from. I see cleaner lines that will allow boating at lower flows(yes, most commonly low anyway) without leaving a lot of plastic behind.

At the expense of much property damage the Big T could possibly be an improved experience with more direct, full and clean lines. The usual suspect rapids are gone with new ones formed. many low bridges on upper run are gone. In some areas the riverbed has been narrowed and squeezed down to a sluice box that might produce quite a ride with runoff this year(Just skied RMNP last week and Hidden Valley has a bunch of snow left).

Bad: Entire homes, businesses and smaller neighborhoods are gone. Did most of that debris wash downstream to Loveland or South Platte? Most but not all as evident by roadside debris. The loose items will undoubtedly be cause for concern to first boaters this Spring.

Ugly: Construction delays and equipment working IN the river will continue for awhile. As mentioned most dams are gone. The Dam Store dam is completely gone at mouth as is most of the next bigger dam 2 miles up that served as regular takeout for lower run. They will rebuild this quickly I assume as rightful owners need their agua. They are making remarkable progress but it will be a cluster in canyon for awhile. I'll snap pics soon.
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Old 03-20-2014   #6
 
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river zen, Colorado
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I would be surprised if the Big T runs this year. I would expect the water to be diverted so work can continue around the river.
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Old 03-20-2014   #7
KSC
 
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Boulder, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jefe View Post
I would be surprised if the Big T runs this year. I would expect the water to be diverted so work can continue around the river.
They almost always divert anyway for power, but there's a limit to the amount they can divert. That's what happened in 2011 and why it had a relatively decent season. Could see the same this year given the current snowpack.
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Old 03-20-2014   #8
 
Denver, Colorado
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The Big T will run this year. The olympus tunnel, which takes water from lake estes and effectively dewaters the canyon in most years can take a max of 600 cfs. In an average year, the big T above lake estes peaks right around 600 cfs, which is why in a normal year the big T doesn't have much of a runoff season at all unless you get maintenance releases.

The big T has a lot of snow this year. Bear lake snotel is 166% of average which will deliver a peak flow above lake estes of 1000+ cfs if we have something similar to 2011. Anything above 600 cfs coming into lake estes will have to be passed down the canyon, since the tunnel will be full. I would expect a decent runoff season in the 300-400 cfs range on the big T in June. If snowpack goes higher, if things get warm quick, or if we get rain during runoff like in 2011, the big T could go much higher.

In 2011 I ran the big T at 1000-1300 cfs due to rain pumping up the snowmelt runoff, and it was AWESOME!

I think it will do the river good to get some flushing.

Also, word is that they are trying to get as much sediment out of the idlywilde dam as possible since they know it would damage the river ecosystem and the big T is a popular fishing river.
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Old 03-22-2014   #9
suigeneris
 
loveland, Colorado
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Big T

The big T has a lot of snow this year. Bear lake snotel is 166% of average which will deliver a peak flow above lake estes of 1000+ cfs if we have something similar to 2011.

Roger that as I just skied Flattop above Bear and still 70 inch base. No corn yet as temps have kept the east face all hard pack. When I flew over this week inbound to DIA the snow cover around Long Draw and Poudre Pass looked impressive.

Here are some pics hopefully in order from Flattop to mouth of canyon:
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Old 03-22-2014   #10
suigeneris
 
loveland, Colorado
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T

East face Flattop
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