chalk, cottonwood, and lower lake creeks? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-20-2005   #1
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chalk, cottonwood, and lower lake creeks?

just too a magical trip through the upper arkansas valley and lookat a couple of possible runs, and was wondering if any local boaters have info. cottonwood creek to the west of buena vista looks really promising but maybe wooded? lower lake creek looks like it would be a quick run but it looked like private property. and i didnt get a chance to look at chalk creek, but judging from maps it looks like there could be enough flow and gradient to make something work there, but itd probably be wooded is my guess. any info on these?

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Old 06-20-2005   #2
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The steepest parts, with plenty of water, on chalk are just above the hot springs I think. It looks like class III. Of course, with huge melt-off, something higher up could be possible.
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Old 06-20-2005   #3
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My grandparents live on chalk creek and I have walked most of it and daydreamed alot. I also just did a scout of one section. So here are my thoughts. The obvious attraction on chalk is the cascades. If you drive up the valley towards St elmo you will go by chalk lake campground (? it is on the left) just before the road climbs a headwall. you will cross the creek (now on your right) and the rapid is right there as it falls 300 or so feet from the top of the headwall to the bottom. Take a look for yourself. My opinion (but I am not a hardman creeker) is unrunnable. Lower flows show a sharp rock infested bed with pin and piton potential. there is a little wood after a left hand turn. At the highest flows only would this be any kind of fun and even then it looked pretty gnarly. I have heard from some friends that it may have been attempted but the general concensus is that it would be pure trash boating with bad consequences (again just heresay).

Below this stretch the river is hidden from the road for the most part (you can check it from some of the campsites on the left). This stretch has potential. I would say only when it is pumping since it is so shallow. Judging by the canals there are going to be diversion structures and from what I have seen PLENTY of wood. I would guess that it is consistent bony class 3 to 4 with some potential for bigger drops. If you do check this out the must take out would be the foot bridge where the colorado trail crosses the river because below there the beavers have been at work and there is alot of swampland and private property.

The stretch that I have had an eye on and just scouted is behind the Princeton Hot springs. as you drive by you can get a look as it drops down an old moraine for around a mile. This looks doable maybee class 4. Again highest possible flows would be best (it never got there this year but I am gunning for next year or later if the heat wave cranks it up) This stretch doesnt look like the bomb but hey its my backyard. to scout there is a bridge where the highway crosses just below the hot springs and you can take it up to the top and take a look.

Finally the stretch way upstream between the cascades and st elmo is mostly flat. but I havent been up there in a while and I seem to remember the road getting way above the river which is always a good indicator of some whitewater. Check it out and let me know if you see anything.
that is all
p.s. lake creek below the dam has been run and looks like fun
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Old 06-20-2005   #4
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I looked at Cottonwood Creek a while back and it looked like it would go at higher flows. Looked like there were lots of bridges though. It reminded me of 10 mile creek in that it didn't have many distinct rapids, but was fairly inclined. It looked like it would be IV+ ish.

Another creek in that area is the North fork of the Arkansas. I went up that drainage last year and I only saw it at very low flows but the drops I saw looked like they would go for someone that boats V+. There was one roughly 18 foot waterfall I saw that looked like it would be pretty clean at higher flows. I was way up on the road though so I could be off. Does anyone know if this ever gets high enough to run. I would think with it being so close to salida someones explored up there.
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Old 06-20-2005   #5
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I ran those drops on the NF just above the camp ground about 3 or 4 weeks ago during the last heat wave. I very neat and tidy set of drops are just off the road. The drops are in the class V+ range and they boat very nicely. The section involves 4 or so drops in quick sucession. A corkscrew entrance sends water straight into a nice fan rock that makes a sweet 8 foot boof. That drop lands you in a very small fast moving pool that feeds a 18 foot drop that lands in a very shallow fast moving pool that feeds a 6 foot sliding drop. You want a flat boof on the second drop for sure. This is a very small and tight section of creek but I feel that it is one of the best rapids I have paddeled in the state.
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Old 06-21-2005   #6
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DeLish- Thanks for the info. Was there anything higher up to extend the run? It looks like it would have the gradient from the Topos I have looked at. Any idea what the level was when you ran it.
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Old 06-21-2005   #7
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Chris Menges from CKS turned me on to this rapid. I am not sure what is up stream from the falls. The level seemed to be a good moderate flow in this creekbead mabey around 100-125????
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Old 06-21-2005   #8
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There are lots of really cool drops in the mile or two upstream of thge main waterfalls. When I went to check out the main set of falls two days ago there was not enough water to run the second drop of the main set.

As for the drops above, there are some great ones but most have wood both above, below and sometimes in them. This run would be a classic if it wasnt so wood infested. It would be a large scale project to clean it up...too large if you dont have weeks of free time, a huge crew and the best tools. We're still gonna try to get in there, run the main falls if they come up again and hike and huck some of the other drops. I'll post pics if we get 'em.

The flow window on this run is short..... this year was the first time i've seen it high enough to run in quite a few years. It ususally runs during the first hot spell of the season.

Its got lots of potential, just a few obstacles like wood and lack of flow.
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Old 06-21-2005   #9
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are you guys talking n fk ark or n fk south ark?
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Old 06-22-2005   #10
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All of these runs I have paddled and not if in a kayak then in a duckey or intra tube as a 12-16 year old.

As far as middle, north, and south cottonwood creek (also Morgans, Denny, and Ptarmigan Creeks) – the runable sections are class 3 tree dodgin barb wire duckin runs with plenty o private property – fun in a inter tube but not much more. Fishing is good but boating is bad. Just a hint but there is a plenty o first D’s in these drainages that would be sick with no trees and tons of water.

Chalk Creek has also been run everything but the cascades – would someone get up there and run this  – same deal tons of landowners, fish hatchery, wood up the ars, and enough barbwire to start a farm with. The best thing about this run is that the very lower part makes Browns shorter.

Lower lake is the same – kinda fun if huge – barbwire to duck and a shotgun loving local who will confront you if you see him or disturb his ducks. If you want to run something up there just go about 6-7 miles upstream for the GOODS!

That stuff on the east west south fork of the north ark I have not run and I think that a crew went up there 3-4 years ago during high water and said that it was good to go.

If you want to creek in around the ark hit up Clear Creek super fun, Lake if you want to go big, or drive a hour and there are all the Butte Creeks.
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