WARNING San Miguel - Ledges section - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-01-2008   #1
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 113
WARNING San Miguel - Ledges section

Hey folks, just a heads up for anyone going to run the Ledges section of the San Miguel. Today we had two near drownings at the low head dam. For those of you who donít know this section there is a low head dam on this run. There is a warning sign that tells you to run it river left. The left side is currently blocked by a bunch of wood. You can tuck in behind the wood and still run left, but you only get two or three paddle strokes to break through the hydraulic. It doesnít seem to be a problem with rafts, but out of the 8 kayakers and 1 ducky we saw run it today, two of them nearly died. They got pulled back into the roller and had long terrible swims that would have been fatal without throw ropes from the bank. The hole is river wide and terminal. It will keep swimmers and anything that floats indefinitely. I donít know if this is only a danger at the current level, or if it is always that bad. The river was up, but didnít seem that high. Please be careful and just portage the damn thing!

If you have to rope someone out, the spot to do from it is river right. Throw from the concrete platform next to the hole, then run down stream with the rope dragging the victim out along the river right bank.

Otherwise the ledges is an awesome play run right now.

Take care out there.

"I used to be a lifeguard - 'till some blue kid got me fired."

Tom R Chamberlain is offline   Reply With Quote
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Old 06-10-2008   #2
 
chrisjaquet's Avatar
 
Telluride, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 26
Ledges Lowhead Dam is always dangerous!

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Originally Posted by Tom R Chamberlain View Post
Hey folks, just a heads up for anyone going to run the Ledges section of the San Miguel. Today we had two near drownings at the low head dam. For those of you who donít know this section there is a low head dam on this run. There is a warning sign that tells you to run it river left. The left side is currently blocked by a bunch of wood. You can tuck in behind the wood and still run left, but you only get two or three paddle strokes to break through the hydraulic. It doesnít seem to be a problem with rafts, but out of the 8 kayakers and 1 ducky we saw run it today, two of them nearly died. They got pulled back into the roller and had long terrible swims that would have been fatal without throw ropes from the bank. The hole is river wide and terminal. It will keep swimmers and anything that floats indefinitely. I donít know if this is only a danger at the current level, or if it is always that bad. The river was up, but didnít seem that high. Please be careful and just portage the damn thing!

If you have to rope someone out, the spot to do from it is river right. Throw from the concrete platform next to the hole, then run down stream with the rope dragging the victim out along the river right bank.

Otherwise the ledges is an awesome play run right now.

Take care out there.

"I used to be a lifeguard - 'till some blue kid got me fired."

I'm glad you put this post on here Tom, it is a very dangerous feature and is the subject of several Search and Rescue discussions and missions.

This low head dam is dangerous at all levels, as is any low head dam. Though it becomes easier to break the boil at lower flows, it is still a drowning machine.

For anyone continuing past the green truss bridge to Naturita or the confluence with the Dolores there is another low head dam that I hear you can run on river right. Though I have never seen it since I have never done this section. This second one has no signage upstream of it so beware.

The local whitewater group www.sanmiguelwhitewater.org - Welcome to the San Miguel Whitewater Association webpage! is working to improve signage on these low-head dams. please email Cary Mackey if you have other comments that you think the local whitewater club should hear.

Thanks for your post Tom.
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Old 06-10-2008   #3
 
SMCanyon, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 88
I believe the other low head dam you're referring to is the Nucla Power Plant diversion. Its just downstream of the bridge over the Miguel thats by the power plant. The diversion is a few hundred yards downstream from the bridge. Its on private property. Yesterday I was looking at it from the road above and did not see a way to run it from center or left. I really couldn't tell if it was runnable on right. From what I've seen I'm pretty skeptical of running it all. Maybe someone has actually done it?
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Old 06-10-2008   #4
 
Ridgway, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 22
I completely agree with Tom and Chris. Any low head dam is dangerous. It can be run on the left, but it should be known that the CC Dam (Ledges section) can be portaged on the right. I have spoken with the landowner personally (he is the son of the previous owner) and he is absolutely fine with boaters portaging on his land. He only asks that if you need to open his cattle gate, that you close it when you leave.
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