SP stated in Spg '02 that they would lift the trash racks and not stop paddlers that were not touching the bed or the banks. The Hayman fire closure and drought have effectively kept paddlers out so this good faith agreement has never been actually tested...They did ask that paddlers try to limit their "footprint" and come through all at once as much as possible between 9-11am. This agreement is based on good will. Please go out of your way to help maintain this. The two-mile portage sucks! So make sure your buddy does his part too.
I walked in and scouted all the way to Punji Stick summer of '03. The fire didn't touch along the river to there and I saw no "new" wood. I would be very cautious though, and it would be worth scouting at low flows to see if any wood is hiding. Seeing the affects of the fire and just the beauty of Wildcat Canyon are worth the day.
Not sure if the take out road (4x4 trail to river) is open or passable. It was closed in '03. District USFS office in Pueblo may know. Its a bitch walking your boat up that road.
As for the river, I've paddled it as low as 180 and would do that anytime though "Let's make a deal" is really marginal at that level. Water does channel nicely through SP at 180 so you can float it. Around 300 is a great level. It gets pushy above that.
As Gary said, this is a serious run. The CL II-III section between Punji stick and Underpriviledged has channels that sieve out and if you enter the wrong one the only way out is through a sieve.
CRC has great beta for this run, but the channels are complex and rapids like Underpriviledge and Dos Chaos come up real qiuck. This is definitely a run that you don't paddle around blind corners or over horizon lines without scouting. The spiders on this run are real.
As for flows...you are talking about Denver and Aurora water needs DW controls Three resevoirs Antero, 11-mile and Cheesman. Aurora controls Spinney.
Antero is only 15% full and storing everything.
Spinney is over 50% and storing 30cfs of its intake
11-mile is 101% and storing 40cfs of its intake.
Cheesman is 101%
What does it all mean...there are so many variables don't even try to figure it out. I would just sign-up with e-phlows on Phateye and set the level at 180 or whatever trigger you want to alert you. (The gage reading on the AW page is for flow coming into Cheesman which adds in flow from Tarryal Creek. Need to monitor the gage called near Lake George)
Park and put-on above SP at one of the parking areas below the camp grounds. I would check to make sure the trash racks are not down prior to putting on though. If they are down, then just make the portage and send me an email [email protected]
Enjoy, and be safe