2018 grand canyon hfe - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-18-2019   #1
Wilson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 24
2018 grand canyon hfe

We enjoyed being on the Grand during the 2018 hfe started on Nov 5,2018.
We made our stand at owl eyes and arrived the afternoon before it was scheduled to hit us. The water level started rising fast around mid day, the next day, and in 4 hrs we had gone from around 8000 to 40,000 cfs. The transformation was an incredible experience and our camp was quickly pushed up into the rocks due to our choice of positioning on the beach. A dinner with water lapping on the cooks feet was hastily prepared while we watched previously benign river change itself into a wood and trash filled monster.

We stayed there three nights and put in on the third morning traveling 35 miles in 61/2 hrs floating with the wood debris as our guide. Deer creek pull in, helicopter eddy, upset rapid all gone. Some of us got into Havasu eddy but no way to get from boats to ledges. Our only kayaker paddled thru the narrows into a blissfully unaffected Havasu cr. Matcat went screaming by us.

I had previously run Lava at high flows in '83, and twice in later trips in the 25,000 to 30,000 range and was confident that there would be a sneak on the left. Our scout at 40,000 was on the left and left us all a little concerned.
There was a good seam but big possibilities of getting typewritered into the ledge hole or entering to far left and getting maytagged by big bubba. One of our dories opted for a bout with big bubba, flipped and did a fair amount of damage as well as a scary swim that ended way past tequilla beach.

My takeaways are that if you get the chance, go during a hfe. It was so cool.
But it affects the trip from beginning to end. Do not underestimate the need to pick a defensible camp and get there early! And bring muck boots, you'll need them!

Anyone else there? What did your trip experience?

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Old 01-19-2019   #2
RichH's Avatar
Mesa, Arizona
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 37
I mean no offense, however, I can't imagine being there during a HFE and not running downstream. How many chances are there to run the river at 40K plus? I have video of my friends running Lava on a past HFE, don't remember the year, and there was no Ledge Hole at Lava, just a smooth entry wave very similar to the entry of Hermit.Glad you had a great time!
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Old 01-20-2019   #3
Wilson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 24
Believe me I was surprised at Lava's ferocity. The ledge hole took up at least half the river. The right side run was, well for us, not an option. The left "sneak" involved punching a quartering wave that typewritered into an exploding corner of the ledge hole but was easily punched. Big Bubba waited below.
As far as not being on the river during the whole 5 day hfe, we made 35 miles in 61/2 hrs the 4th day of the flow and we were on a 24 day trip with plenty of time. We could have jetted downstream but it was so cool to hang and watch.
I have not been able to really get a firm handle on the flow at lava. Our group of 12 were all very experienced on the river. My 15th private trip but more importantly a guide that runs with grand canyon dories was with us. He sent pictures to his guide friends with 100's of trips and they said 40,000. What do I know? I know I,ve kayaked and rafted for 45 years and I was impressed!
It was one of the best trips of my life.
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