Ruby-Horsethief Safe for Canoes at Low Water? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-19-2018   #1
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 1
Ruby-Horsethief Safe for Canoes at Low Water?

I am hoping to canoe Ruby-Horsethief canyon next month with a friend. I have experience canoeing class I and II rivers in southern Missouri (the Current River) and I have guided canoe trips on flatwater rivers (Labyrinth Canyon) and lakes and have rowed a few small stretches of Westwater and paddle raft guided on the Moab Daily many times. Everything I’ve read so far online says Ruby Horsethief is perfectly fine for beginner canoeists below 10000 CFS (it’s currently at 2300). However, my paddle partner is very inexperienced, and I have one very pushy friend in particular who insists that even at low flows, I need to have extensive whitewater canoe experience to run RHT in a canoe. She has a good amount of experience and knowledge in this area so I don’t want to dismiss her opinion, however I feel she might be exaggerating. I did RHT in a raft this past March at a similar flow and I honestly don’t even remember anything remotely difficult. My partner and I are both stoked about canoeing. Anyone here canoed RHT recently and have any suggestions or advice? Would RHT be safe to canoe around these low flows with one relatively experienced paddler in the stern and an inexperienced paddler at the bow? Thanks! Our campsites are Cottonwood and Knowles FYI if there is anything cool to know about those.

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Old 07-19-2018   #2
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,805
Yes, it is safe. However, the canoeist needs to be energetic and outgoing. They may catch a funny eddy line and dump or run into a rock at Black Rocks and dump. They need to be fine with this, and ready to take the proper actions to right the boat and empty the water out of it.
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Old 07-19-2018   #3
Fruita, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 7
Totally agree with lmyers. While nothing is without risk, if you anticipate the potential for a swim and roll with it, you will do fine. The larger issue is wind which we seem to have had a lot of lately. Start EARLY and get off before it starts kicking up in the afternoon. Your sites are quite reasonable to accomplish this. Good luck and have a blast.
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Old 07-20-2018   #4
Pieter Porcupine
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 279
Piggybacking on Cometman. A boater wiser than me once said, "One stroke in the morning is worth 2 in the afternoon". I would add sometimes 5 or 6.
The larger the river of knowledge the longer the shoreline of wonder.
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Old 07-20-2018   #5
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 227
The sometimes ridiculously fierce headwinds in that region and being in a tippy canoe is also probably your biggest hazard on that run, too.

So don't discount that previous advice on early starts and it should be a fun trip.

Noobs gotta start someplace and your timing and run seem a good choice to me.

Also, remember to tell the newbert that a swamped out open canoe, even in milder currents like this run, is a potentially dangerous, lethal thing to be between it and a hard place. It will crush the f$ck out of you and not care one bit. So stay on the upstream side if you swamp and are maneuvering it to shore. Your 80 lb. canoe now weighs more than a couple cars for perspective.
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Old 07-20-2018   #6
Chief Niwot's Avatar
West of Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
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Go for it, just be sure to have air bag floatation in the boat.
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Old 07-20-2018   #7
Castle Rock, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 28
It's totally fine. I canoed that stretch last weekend. The river was ridiculously low and we hit bottom through a couple spots. While there were still some weird swirls at Black Rocks, stay in the middle and there won't be any issues. And certainly heed what Griz is saying...
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Old 07-20-2018   #8
Englewood, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 41
I just did RH week before last solo in a packraft at 2400 cfs. Never say never, but I have a hard time imagining anyone getting into significant trouble at that flow. Maybe a few scrapes if you grounded out in a riffle or ran into a rock as you were landing, but even then...generally pretty slow moving with the occasional riffle. No whitewater at all, maybe a I+ section about 30' long around the Black Rocks section. I saw several canoeists, they seemed to be having a good time. Even saw a young couple in bathing suits on paddleboards, they did fine.

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