River Courtesy - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-28-2010  
laughing water's Avatar
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 33
River Courtesy

What ever happened to common river courtesy?
On Columbus Day weekend, my family and I took our last river trip of the season. We chose Ruby/Horsetheif for the serenity and eagles and golden cottonwoods. It used to be that when I went boating in October, I had the river to myself. Times have changed. So has the make-up of the people on the river! While most of the people in the canyons were friendly and courteous, there was at least one rude puke who thought his money made him somehow superior.
I dutifully signed up for a campsite at Blackrocks. Just past Cottonwoods, a motorized boat-floatilla passed us. Not even a nod or gesture of greeting, let alone asking where we were camping. Guess who poached our campsite. Luckily, due to the surprising amount of people on the river, I had pulled into Blackrocks 1 (for which nobody had signed as of my departure at Loma) and hiked down to check my campsite. The poachers were there. Another trip, hoping there might be an open camp, arrived at Blackrocks 1 a coupla hours later. We offered to share, knowing that Black Rocks was now full. They opted to run for Knowles.

At Westwater, we were literally 30 yards from the ramp when guess who motored past us and into the only available space. Yup, same guy.
One issue (that may be fodder for a whole separate thread) is, why in the world would you motor through Ruby/Horsethief? If you so detest the scenery, serenity and and relaxed boating afforded by a flatwater run, don't go! Go to a lake! And don't call yourself a rafter!
Second. Having a motorized boat, a tilting, power-winched trailer and $200 dollar sandals does NOT afford you some special privilege over the rest of us. Get in line! Don't steal campsites that have another group's name on them!
Third, you egocentric buffoon, spend a little time noticing your wife. The look on her face of shame and humiliation at your actions almost made me want to apologize to her.
If anyone knows the driver of the vehicle with Colorado 704URM plates, sit him down and give him some friendly advice.

Finally, though I am not a fan of big government, if anybody knows of a forum for the discussion of permitting Ruby/Horsethief, let me know. There are too many rafters down there now to let it go unprotected. And, it seems that common courtesy is not so common anymore.

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Old 11-28-2010  
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,753
Unfortunately, that kind of behavior is getting common on Ruby Horsethief Section.

Since it is such a long drive for us to Westwater, we typically do three days on that section (basically a layover where ever we can find a site). Black Rocks used to be a favorite, here lately it has become a zoo. We avoid weekends as in week cuts down a bit on the traffic.

It is unfortunate but courtesy is often times in short supply not only at the ramps but along the river.

If the permit procedure would support better policing around Loma Put in and maybe a river ranger as well, that would gain a lot of support from the folks who float this section on a regular basis (for us, usually once per year).
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Old 11-28-2010  
BCJ's Avatar
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 553
Permits are coming, maybe as soon as next season. BLM Grand Junction has been collecting data for about 5-6 years. Many similar stories. You may want to contact them for details. Rumor is they haven't settled on a system yet, but somehow permits will be required to camp so that camps can really be reserved (not just a voluntary sign up), but maybe no permits required for a day trip. Not sure which it will be. Also not sure about motors. Motors have been down there historically for a very long time, including duck and deer hunters, commercial outfitters, etc. For awhilejet skiiers were using it but I think they're prohibited now. Unfortunately, I have to say I'm for the permits too, for all the reasons you stated.
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Old 11-29-2010  
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 668
In terms of motors, people use them because the currents can be slow, and with winds, you can actually move up river, even while rowing! I would use one in windy conditions, not to just motor throught the canyon (it is worth taking your time), but to cut through the winds. Rowing constantly for 8 hours into the wind can be rough on backs, shoulders and arms. Sounds like this particular person may just motor through the canyon because he can...

As far as poaching goes, this has been discussed several times. The "reservationo" system is voluntary, and those that know that often don't bother to volunteer signing up for a space. The camp site are really first come, first serve, so those types will take the site they want, as long as they get their first. That may be the reason for the motor too - to be first to the camp site. Stay away from Black Rocks, and you'll have a bit more luck, but we had to share a site with another family this fall because of a mis-understanding on their part as to how the sign up worked (they signed up on the worng line or something). Reasonable people wll share, you just have to get lucky I guess.

Not sure what to say about the ramp. Maybe the guy thought he could be out of the water and out of the way faster than you could with his fancy trailer and winch. Doesn't excuse it, but it's not surprising given the rest of the story. Sounds like you handled it well though.

I had thought it was certain that this was going to be permitted starting in 2011. I haven't followed it that close lately, but if it's not, I can't imagine it being much longer before they do. Too many issues and complaints to not do something.
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Old 11-29-2010  
Summit County, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 156
I totally agree with BoilerMakerU with regard to the engine. If you've never rowed Ruby/Horsethief in a headwind, then I wouldn't expect you to understand. We take an engine (trolling) every time, whether we're doing Westwater or not. You can never be too prepared when you know you need to be out of there by a certain time. It also sounds like that group may have been continuing on down Westwater. Usually people who have engines on Ruby are continuing on to run Westwater, and will then motor after the rapids on Westwater. They do Ruby fast so they can take more time in Westwater. They also might have been trying to get a good camp on Westwater, which may have been the rush to get to the boat ramp. You may not know this, but technically there are two ramps at Westwater. The obvious one you see first, and then a second past that one, kind of right next to the actual ranger station. You can pull a trailer down at both of them.

BoilermakerU is also correct about the campsites. Even though there is a sign-up sheet, they are first come first serve. In four years of doing that stretch, we have never gotten our first choice, unless it was a weekday. Just plan on it being taken and always have a backup or two in mind. Also remember to be flexible and have an open mind, as you may end up sharing with someone. We've never had a bad experience. An engine comes in handy in this situation as well. If your camp is taken, motor down quickly to whatever is available next.

We also thought that a permit system is being put in place for next season, similar to the way that the Westwater permits work. Even though this will take away the chance to decide spur of the moment to go, it will prevent a lot of the campsite hassles, as well as the groover and firepan situation. That stretch has been abused far too long as far as groovers and firepans are concerned. It's time for it to be protected and treated with the respect it deserves.
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Old 11-29-2010  
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,344
The first come first serve campsite thing sounds similar to issues we've had the last few years on the Main Salmon. Folks don't seem to understand what "first come first served, non-reserved" means. We keep our group size small on purpose so that we can use the non-reserve camps and do layover days. But we keep having confrontations with people who think that if they write down a non-reserve camp on their "wish list" at the put-in they automatically get it. Even if they come rolling into camp in the late afternoon or early evening. Non-reserve means..... be organized, get your crew going at a decent hour in the morning, don't fart around too much during the day, and always have a back-up plan.
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Old 11-29-2010  
craig, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 13
Unfortunately, permits are a necessary evil and situations like you just revealed to us, are getting more common...I have heard other stories as well and been in your position. I wanted to deck a cocky GCEX guide who not only used there motor rig to slowdown our group, (it was supporting dorys) but then one of the guides walked down to our camp( after they took the camp we told the we were shooting for) and got mouthy...geeez. But hey I think it is in the minority and those cocky...arrogant SOB's aren't so cocky when they are staring down the launch ramp of the Middle Fork and its running 6ft, so don't let it get ya to much....mother nature will cool his jetts sooner or later
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Old 11-29-2010  
Aurora, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 623
Originally Posted by cataraftgirl View Post
.. be organized, get your crew going at a decent hour in the morning, don't fart around too much during the day, and always have a back-up plan.
I agree. If you've got the hots for a particular camp, get up early, and get there. It's also a good solution to rowing against headwinds on Ruby, or most any run- get on the water early, and you're quite likely going to beat the winds.
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