San Juan - low water questions - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 05-05-2010   #1
 
DeeGardiner's Avatar
 
Sandy, Utah
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San Juan - low water questions

We have a permit for the San Juan May 10. We were expecting relatively high water, but it has been dropping like a rock. It is now down to about 1000 cfs and the forecast calls for down around 400-600 cfs during the week.

We launch at Sand Island and take out at Clay Hills. We have allocated 6 river days, but probably won't launch until early afternoon on the 10th and we hope to be off by noon on the 15th. That gives us 4 full days and 2 half days.

Questions:
1) With low water, can we make it in 4 full days plus 2 half days? Will it give us time to enjoy the canyon and side hikes? I realize wind plays a big factor, but wanted to know if we are doomed from the start.

2) We will have one 14' raft, one 16' raft, and one duckie. Medium load on the rafts. Will the low water be a problem for the rafts? Rocks, sand bars, etc.

3) Any advice to share for a low water trip?

Thanks.

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Old 05-05-2010   #2
 
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Boulder, Colorado
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We're launching on the 9th, and I think (hope) your forecast is a bit too pessimistic. The Animas is spiking at Silverton and the Four Corners flow should kick back up by Friday.

It's a shame there won't be a dam release this season, but as long as it stays warm in the SJ's, the flow should rebound. The dam is releasing a steady 500cfs and the Animas won't drop to 0 ( ) , so my suspicion is that we've hit a floor here.

Fingers crossed. If it doesn't come up a fair bit while you're out there (we're out there, I should say), plan to scout Goverment. PITA, but not a big deal.
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Old 05-05-2010   #3
 
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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We just got out at Clay Hills yesterday. The float from Slickhorn out is a complete PITA because of the silt deposits. My raft was dragging bottom much of the time, and I had to get out and pull it many times. I would say the level was about 1250. If it goes down much more, you will be pulling the entire stretch.

Government was boney, but not too bad. Slickhorn Rapid is non-existant due to silt deposits.
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Old 05-05-2010   #4
 
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Sandy, Utah
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Here is the website where I got my forecast:

SAN JUAN - BLUFF, NR (BFFU1)

The forecast has gone up some since I posted earlier this morning.
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Old 05-05-2010   #5
 
Kayenta, Arizona
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San Juan Trip

We ran the full stretch back in mid March in two duckies loaded to the gills, and we took 6 river days, with 5 of those being full days...the river was flowing at 1200-1400 then. I will seccond what a previous poster had made stating that the bottom 13 miles are terrible...you will have to drag boats pretty much regardless of flow.

We had to drag the duckies a number of times, even in duckies (though they were loaded to the max.)

Hope the trip is sweet for you guys, check out the John's canyon camp-site if you can at mile 59 i believe. Also Honnaker trail is a blast at mile 45...plan at least 3 hours for a full bottom to top and down hike...amazing views of Monument Valley.

With your time, I would plan to only spend one night on the upper, shoot to get past Mexican Hat the afternoon/ evening of the second day for a better experience in the lower canyon.

Scout Government regardless of level, but it is passable even in low water, only one real clean route.

Good Luck, have fun!

MN
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Old 05-05-2010   #6
 
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We ran it in December at around 800 and didn't have to drag the rafts at all on the paddle out because it was plenty deep in the main flow. But, we had frozen eddies and banks which made it easy to see where to line up. At 1250 we all ended up dragging once or twice because we couldn't see the sandbars and mainflow.

So, dragging isn't mandatory at all, but can be likely.

We made the 800cfs trip in 3.3 days... barely. Five days at 1250 was easy with ample time to hike, sleep in, etc.
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Old 05-05-2010   #7
 
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Gardnerville, Nevada
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WSWW - did you hapen to take a look at the remains of trimble camp or at ojeto? was wondering if a beach was redeveloping at trimble or how the mud flat at ojeto was.
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Old 05-05-2010   #8
 
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oarframe View Post
WSWW - did you hapen to take a look at the remains of trimble camp or at ojeto? was wondering if a beach was redeveloping at trimble or how the mud flat at ojeto was.
Yeah, there is still nothing at Trimble. The place is totally destroyed with boulders everywhere. We did camp at Oljeto. The mouth of the creek is a muddy mess, but we pulled up on the rock just downstream and there is plenty of room to easily unload.

The road out CH is in really good shape, it has been worked on in the past few days. We made it easily with 2WD pick-up and trailer.
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Old 05-05-2010   #9
 
Aurora, Colorado
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Hey guys, our group is also doing SI to CH launching on the 10th. Wow I hope the flow picks up. On past trips we usually found the deepest channel up close to the riverbank down by Clay Hills. It may be on either side of the river though, and getting stuck on a sand bar while crossing over is common. Might be a good trip to pack light.
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Old 05-05-2010   #10
 
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Bayfield, Colorado
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Look at the animas gauge add 48 hours and i think you should be fine. With 70 degree temps predicted all week in Durango and the inevitable increase in flows coming, I suspect that you will have plenty of water!
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