low water san juan - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-16-2013   #1
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p.c., confused
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low water san juan

Hey buzz boaters, I'm heading for the San Juan next week and just wondering if anybody has been down the lower stretch of the riv at low (4-500 cfs) water and what was government rapid like. I know it is a tight squeeze and all, but just wanted to know if anyone had to line boats thru or what. Any info out there... thanks.

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Old 04-16-2013   #2
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Yes, people have been running it, do a quick search. There have been a few threads about the SJ this season.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 04-16-2013   #3
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thanks cutch i'll look into the other threads
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Old 04-16-2013   #4
Salida, Colorado
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We ran it the last week of March - started at about 410 and ended at about 600. Government Rapids was about 450.

Great trip. Gov Rapids is tight, and we both hung up on the rock with my 15' and his 14' boat, but the next group down floated it successfully (3, 14-footers). I needed a rope to be pulled off, the other boatman was able to spin his off.

600 for the last day was great and we only hung up a few times.

Have a blast!
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Old 04-16-2013   #5
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Cedar hills, Utah
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I ran it last year at about 500. Sand bar central. Passengers will have to get out and pull you across a few. We got off the upper on Sunday. It's a great trip For lighter, smaller boats. My kids love it. At thy level you can't go to the left at government. Rocks to dodge, but no biggie. I got hung up in my 16' last year. My husband was knocked out by the hit on the rock. He held on to the chicken line, STOOD UP, and pushed me off. We all laugh about it now. I did NOT laugh about it that day. . Have fun!
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Old 04-16-2013   #6
Sandy, Utah
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About the same experience as others have talked about. Ran it last August with a 16 foot cat and 16 foot self bailer with levels between 450-550. The cat unfortunately was injured just below Mexican Hat on some rebar or something very sharp in the river... Put a 12 inch gash in the tube right at the seam, so the repair was difficult and still leaked... the tube had to be filled every hour or so. Long story short, most of the gear of 9 people was piled onto my self bailer, plus 4-5 people. Including about 500 beers and at least 50 gallons of water. Didn't have any problems except Govt. rapid is very shallow at that level and got hung up for a few minutes. Same as Swissriver, my friend got out and pushed us off the rock. Other than that, maybe a couple of times hopping out on the last day to move over a sandbar or two. Smaller boats would have been better, but had a blast, can't complain.
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Old 04-17-2013   #7
cedar city, Utah
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We floated last October at about 500 cfs.

I don't remember any issues in the upper stretch. Just much slower.

The worst feature is actually above John's Canyon, the only place I got stuck. Shoals extend all the way across the river. Not sure there is a "channel" there.

Government is technical rapid at those levels. Run the obvious upper shoot and then do a series of moves resembling an s-turn. I had cleans runs but ran both of the small boats we had solo with passengers with z-drag and throw ropes on shore. Was nervous with my friend's 12' Avon he loaned me.

Below Grand Gulch becomes an epic quagmire. Hard to find the thalwag. We dragged our boats more than a dozen times.

The lower Slickhorn camps can be hard to enter and exit at those levels. Oljeato looked unreachable as did everything in that last stretch.

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Old 04-17-2013   #8
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San Juan Riv increase

Just saw a note from Susan Novak Behery at bureau of reclamation regarding the increased flows for the San Juan Riv, that was posted on the buzz good news. Beginning Thursday April 18th flows will be increased from 500cfs to 650 that will help out all of the endangered boaters.
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Old 04-17-2013   #9
Lyons, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 25
# of nights recommended for low flow?

For you low flow boaters... any beta on what was 'doable' in terms of daily mileage?
We launch June 20 and I've set it at 6 nights but starting to wonder if 7 may be better anticipating low flows, never-ending potential for w.i.n.d., and extra time hiking to see the petro's and picto's.

thanks for any advice,
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Old 04-17-2013   #10
Durango, Colorado
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@rivh20- Our release is increasing to 650, but add in the Animas, subtract out irrigation, etc- you'll still likely be looking at somewhere in the low 500's by the time it gets to Bluff.

Susan Novak Behery, P.E.
Hydrologic Engineer
Western Colorado Area Office
Durango, CO
[email protected]
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