North Fork Poudre (lower) hazards and TR - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-10-2017   #1
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 301
North Fork Poudre (lower) hazards and TR

We did the lower North Fork of the Poudre (Livermore bridge to Picnic Rock) yesterday, 6/9, at about 550 CFS and there a some hazards to be aware of. We were in small rafts. There were several mandatory portages. Some would be more dangerous with more water, some worse with low water. The first few miles are almost completely absent of eddies; most of the portages were easy and obvious, but hard to catch the bank for some. For those of you who are unaware the first section is through ranch land (fences) and it is a narrow river bed (river wide strainers). Sorry I don't have good mileage.

There is a wire fence across the river at the put in marking one side of the ranch. Obvious. Easily ducked at this level.
Less than half a mile down there is a wide strainer. The portage is on the right: note private land, be discreet and quick. At this level and higher a kayak could probably sneak left. With less water there wouldn't be a channel there. Maybe a half a mile further around a big left bend there is a river wide strainer. We were able to walk boats under it along the left bank. Maybe a kayak could duck under on the left, but any more water it would be a chest shot.
The wire fence on the opposite side of the ranch marking the boundary of the Eagle's Nest open space is at a wide section of river. The water is slow moving on the right side of the river and the fence is much higher there, but the current is on the left. We got in the water and guided our boats under.

There is another wire fence that is the biggest concern because it was not expected and is on a long straightaway with no eddies. We had a very significant scare here. Looking at a map I think (don't hold me to it) it is at the boundary of Eagle's nest and Roosevelt, http://www.co.larimer.co.us/parks/eagles_nest_map.pdf. The banks are high and there is brush to grab on to but no slowing of the current. In the middle of the river it was about a foot above the water. At the current level, if we had been prepared we could have lifted it over the boat, but the current is fast and straight here. In a kayak this would clothesline you. But you could sneak around along the banks (maybe). With higher water this could be a serious submerged entrapment hazard. At lower water of less consequence.

There was another river wide strainer that was an old trunk with no branches or bark, less than two feet above the water. It is obvious across the main current in a left channel. There is a right channel. Don't take it, it constricts through the brush and we did some unpleasant bushwhacking in the water. Easy portage.

We had one (or two?) other stainers to avoid, but it was due to us choosing the wrong channels.

Fortunately all the fences were barbless, otherwise we would need to replace our PFDs after our scare.

This was our first time. We had a brutal head wind on Seaman Reservoir and it was a long shitty long long shitty long flat paddle across in a raft. Then the portage at the damn sucked. The reason I mention this is that it turned a pleasant easy creek float into a long brutal day. The river is fun, but in my opinion I will only consider it worth doing as an easy overnight. There is a lot of great camping once you cross into the national forest. I would not do this in a raft at much lower levels.

This is not meant to discourage this run. It is beautiful and all the hazards are obvious and easily avoidable if you know to expect them.

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